In his essay The Death of the Author, Roland Barthes argued that the only way to read a book was to separate it from its author. According to Barthes, authorial context and intent wouldn’t provide insight into the meaning of the text. Instead, it would limit the amount of meaning a reader could take from it. Giving a text an author before you analyse it was nothing more than a convenient and simple way to understand it. For Barthes, the meaning of a book wasn’t dependent on who the author was but on who the reader was. As we can never really be sure of what an author intended, trying to understand a novel based on who they were as a person would always be flawed. The author, thus, becomes not a God but merely a “scriptor”. They aren’t imposing meaning but merely translating putting the meaning on paper for the reader to untangle themselves.
Even though I’ve gone off J.K. Rowling a bit in recent years, I still appreciate the impact that she had on my life. The Harry Potter books were a big part of me becoming the reader that I am today. I guess it’s no stretch to say that they were a big part of the person I am today. Yes, I’ve grown up to realise that Rowling isn’t the great writer that I thought she once was. Yes, it bugs me that she keeps going back and altering her work for stupid reasons. Yes, I think she was massively wide of the mark when it comes to diversity. Yes, some of her personal views and opinions are just wrong. But she’s also done a lot for a lot of people. Her first two Harry Potter spin-off books were released to raise money for Comic Relief. Her latest charitable release came in the form of an Audible audiobook. The third book in the wider Potterverse is being read by stars like Jude Law, Evanna Lynch, Warwick Davies, and Jason Isaacs to raise money for the Lumos Foundation. Of course, I ended up getting it for free as an Audible member, so I’m not sure how that works. Still, I knew I had to check it out.