Taking Liberties With Harry Potter

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Press Commentary
Title: Taking Liberties With Harry Potter
Commentator: Tracy Mayor
Date(s): June 23, 2003[1]
Venue: Boston Globe Magazine, print
Fandom: Harry Potter
External Links: Taking Liberties with Harry Potter (author's website)
WebCite link
Taking Liberties With Harry Potter.jpg
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Taking Liberties With Harry Potter is an article written by Tracy Mayor and published in the Boston Globe Magazine on June 23, 2003. It opens with this question: "Thousands of spinoffs of J.K. Rowling’s novels--many steamy with graphic sex--can be read on the Internet. But why is this fan fiction, often of questionable legality, allowed to flourish?"

The article looks at fan fiction through a critical and somewhat dubious lens. Slash fan fiction, as is often the case, bears the brunt of disapproval, as can be seen in the following excerpt:

"No one wants to put words in J.K. Rowling’s mouth, but it’s safe to assume that when Rowling hails her readers’ creativity, she has in mind something other than tales wherein Professor Snape is fellated by the Sorting Hat.
“Ulysses” this isn’t. And when James Joyce wrote his 1922 master work, Homer had been dead for 27 centuries. Rowling is a living, breathing, solo artist in the midst of what she and her publishers, and many critics, consider a work of serious artistic merit.
Fan fiction, then, is actually a kind of literary karaoke, with fans taking the words out of the author’s mouth as she’s still trying to writing them. Harmless, ultimately, but perhaps not the best of manners, either.

One reviewer disagrees saying that the article offers: "A thoughtful examination of the Harry Potter fanfic phenomenon, tastefully interspersed with excerpts and art. (Although who the blonde is supposed to be is beyond me. Hermione's brown-haired, Ginny's red-haired, and Cho presumably has straight black hair ... 'shipping out of canon, are we? How very intriguing. LOL ...) Henry Jenkins gets a nod, as does Fiction Alley (whoo hoo! Go FA!), FF.net and the Potter Slash Archives. The author, evidently not a ficcer herself, does a witty but respectful job of deconstructing fanfic rationality and netiquette. It's interesting to look at an outsider's view, isn't it?"[2]

More reactions can be found in the comments to The Internet sex life of Harry Potter, which links to the Boston Globe article.[3]


  1. The author's website says 29 June 2003. (Accessed 01 April 2012)
  2. Bennie Robbins. Metafic (Accessed 01 April 2012)
  3. The Internet sex life of Harry Potter, 02 July 2003. (Accessed 09 April 2012)