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J.K.'s surprising revelation about Dumbledore

by David Haber

Just a little over a year ago, on August 2, 2006, J.K. Rowling made a statement at her reading in New York City, at Radio City Music hall, that was big news and related directly to what we talk about on this web site. Well, tonight she's done it again. This evening, again in New York City, this time at Carnegie Hall, J.K. Rowling dropped a bombshell on the Harry Potter fan community.

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Reader Comments: (Page 14)

Hi, i feel that there is no need to say that thing now. as this is a children's book and most of HP fans can see themselves in those HP characters then it may affect how they think about them.

regarding the clues, i dont feel they fit. with that brilliant brain, dumbeldore is always trying to protect the wizarding world from dark wizards like ginderwald and voldemort, in that process he maintains his relationship with harry.

i dont know why JKR announce like that but this is a big blow for HP fans. whatever the controversy is, Dumbledore is still a hero.

Posted by Venkat from Ongole,India on October 25, 2007 04:13 AM

Alan Rickman only refused to talk about Snape later on; when the first books and the first film came out he was quite open to talk about the character, hinting, when the question came up whether Snape was evil, that we should consider why Snape saved people all the time in the first film (and book). He later got a bit frustrated about journalists only asking him about his part in "Harry Potter" and not about his other work; which to him must have been equally, if not more important, considering he directed "My name is Rachel Corrie" which was really controversial but didn't receive the attention it deserved by journalists.

Commenting on Snape later on would have destroyed the suspense and Rickman respected that Rowling gave him information not to be shared.

I can't see how our children's imagination and innocense could be destroyed by revealing that Dumbledore LOVED men (and thank you, Sheryl, for going beyond here!) It has nothing to do with the storyline in itself nor does it change Dumbledore's actions and motivations!

Posted by Siena from Leeds, UK on October 25, 2007 04:46 AM

I was unsettled to hear that Dumbledore was . But this was because of his role as a parental-type figure -- and we are always unsettled to think about sex and parent figures! I hadn't particularly thought about the of any of the faculty.

But Gilderoy Lockhart! Come on, guys. Remember how all the women and girls drooled with infatuation? No way the wizarding world as a whole thought of him as !

Posted by Fran from Alexandria, VA on October 25, 2007 07:17 AM

I don't believe that any comments on this topic have indicated that JKR's announcement has "destroyed" either the innocence or imagination of children. "Destroyed" is a very harsh term and out of context of the comments posted thus far.

The issue is that this is a children's book. If anyone doubts this, they need only go to their nearest book store and inquire where to find the HP books. They are not in the adult section, nor in the young adult section. They are in the children's section. Like it or not, these books are marketed toward children.

Children learn to read at a very young age. I was quite surprised how quickly they advance; my own kids, as well as their classmates, were ready to read books of the HP caliber by the end of 1st grade, at which point they were just 7 years old. Bearing this in mind, one other person commented that the HP series has been a beautiful series where children can safely enter the world of make-believe without adult-themed interferences tugging on their experience. While adults can extrapolate that the Dumbledore announcement is meant to show simply love and not , children see their world as very black and white. They do not have the maturity to look for hidden meanings or subtleties or to understand the complexities surrounding adult lifestyle choices.

Many parents allow their children to believe in things such as Santa Claus. Children accept the notion completely, until one day they begin to wonder how can this man ride a sleigh all over the world and deliver presents all w/in a 24 hour period. At that point, they are ready to be told the true meaning of Christmas and giving, if such a holiday is celebrated in their household. The point is that this is where they are mature enough to grasp the larger meaning of the holiday. Similarly, trying to push the idea of sexual orientation on a child before they are mature enough to handle it is, in my opinion, really wrong. I treasure that my own children can listen to "Puff the Magic Dragon" without looking for drug references. I'd also prefer for them to read the HP series without having to grapple with issues that they cannot yet comprehend since, after all, they are the aunce to whom the books are marketed.

This is, of course, just my opinion, and I'm sure that many people are quite opposed to it. I would feel the same about JKR's announcement had she chosen to use the books to make a political statement or a statement about Right to Life or any other adult themes that are beyond the maturity of our youngest readers.

From a literary viewpoint, I agree with those who have said that JKR should allow the end of the book to stand where it is. She needs to stop throwing out these new "revelations" about the characters after the fact. I'd prefer to allow my own imagination fill in the gaps rather than having the gaps force-fed to me.

Posted by Michelle on October 25, 2007 09:19 AM

Harry Potter may be displayed in the Children's departments of some book stores, but in many others they are in a category by themselves, literally. A display of ALL Potter related merchandise, right in the main crossroads of the store. However, it doesn't even matter -- managers make arbitrary decisions about this sort of thing, and location of a book does not make that book BELONG in that location. In the public library where I work, we have multiple copies of all the Potter books in Children's, in Young Adult, AND in Adult Fiction. (I'm not arguing that the books are NOT Children's books, by the way -- only that the yardstick of where they are located in a store is meaningless.)

AS Children's books, they need to be entertaining to children and understandable to children. They do NOT have to curry the favor of any parent as to content, theme, or maturity. I wish the people who are complaining about the "mature themes" would back off and realize that they are simply upset because their personal standards are not being supported -- and maybe that's because Rowling and many of the rest of us DO NOT AGREE with them! Sexuality is part of our biology. Who we are romantically attracted to, who we love, who we eventually have sex with, is something inborn. Every time soneone calls it a "lifestyle choice" they reveal that they do NOT understand this fact of life. I worry about what happen if the kids they are sheltering from the Facts of Life turn out to be and start knowing they are different at, oh, age 8 or so. (I had a playmate when I was in elementary school who liked to play dressup with the girls... how nice if his parents had not been so rigid in THEIR thinking.)

Nobody is pushing on small kids. Rowling simply mentioned a backstory detail. Kids who read the books and don't follow discussion forums probably never know. If they hear about it and ask questions, a lot depends on their parent's reactions. And maybe THIS is the REAL issue. Parents do not want to talk about it. It bothers THEM. Kids accept most things that are explained calmly and minimally and move on. All you should have to do if asked what it means, Dumbledore is "", is say (casually) "Oh, it just means that Dumbledore loved another man." I would be amazed if it had to go further than that. But if it did, leaving judgementalism OUT would be the Rowling way to go!

Posted by Sherry the Librarian from New Hampshire, USA on October 25, 2007 12:11 PM

Dumbledore still rocks. Being doesn't change that and it's stupid to say that it "wrecks The books".

No one had a problem when they were reading them and didn't know, right? So why does it change now that he's "out" about being ? It adds that much needed missing twist to the series, that very twist that i've missed since the last book.

To put it simply, Dumbledore's Still Awesome.

Posted by Peter from Belfast on October 25, 2007 1:49 PM

In "outing" Dumbledore, wasn't JKR just responding to a direct question using some of the tremendous backstory she has told us she has accumulated in many notebooks? She probably has enough backstory on her characters to write a biography on most of the major ones.

I don't remember ever reading a passage about Dumbledore and wondering if he was . That is so irrelevant to the storyline and the themes of the books. Yet, her obsessed fans (me included) want to know more (everything) about the people of her world that we have come to know and love.

Should she have been coy in her response or lied because this is a children's book series? (Why have millions of adults been reading a children's book?) Somehow, I think JKR demonstrated tremendous respect for her aunce, adults and children alike by answering the question truthfully. She gives us credit for understanding human nature and its frailties to the degree to which each of us is capable of that understanding.

What a wonderful opportunity for a parent to have a heart to heart talk with a son or daughter, to discuss the concept of ity with their child. And, the fact that it is a reality in the world, both our world and Harry's world. This fact about Dumbledore doesn't make "Harry Potter" less a children's book nor does it change the themes of love, sacrifice, and good vs. evil. If anything, when Jo pointed out that he was enamored of Grindelwald and that ended so badly, it makes Dumbledore a more approachable figure--a man with a huge capacity to love who knew the immense importance of love in life yet whose own life was so devoid of a fulfilling relationship with one other individual. That was the greatest tragedy for Dumbledore not whether the individual he loved was male or female.

Posted by Hannah from Los Angeles on October 25, 2007 4:40 PM

I would like to share my mother's views on this subject:

"Dumbledore was a great hero (as we all knew). I think it's brave of Rowling to make a huge character like that , because everyone loved Dumbledore before they knew. It's a great way to show the world that even someone as noble and influential as Dumbledore can be , and we respect them for what their choices are rather than their . A series as widespread and influential as Harry Potter is a good way to raise peoples' views and opinions on s."

Personally, I don't think we needed to know. The series is over, Dumbledore is , all that we have left is movies, and now she's going to spring on us that Dumbledore was in the closet all these years? Where is the harm in having him reminisce on past loves? I mean, a few people would flip out because that didn't happen in the book, but honestly I would rather have that than Dumbledore being .

Posted by Ashley Ross from Missouri on October 25, 2007 4:50 PM

Everyone is, of course, entitled to their own opinion, and everyone is free to take whatever is said by Jo or anyone else after the fact with whatever size grain of salt they prefer. However, I am utterly amazed and disappointed in the number of people that I've seen both here and elsewhere that say their respect for Albus has diminished with this announcement. I've mentioned before: he's still Albus. If Jo announced this tidbit of information, but you never knew of it, would your respect not still be intact? It wouldn't change the fact that Albus may be , nor would it change anything he did, or, quite frankly, why he did it. Why then should the fact that you know change your opinion? That is, after all, all that happened; Jo didn't change any aspect of his character, she simply told us about one that had always been there.

I suppose I can understand the rationale of parents who are open-minded who still want to wait until their children are "mature enough" to tell them about and different orientations, realizing that each parent has different situations that they need to deal with regarding this, even though I don't yet have children of my own. But Michelle (in her comment on Oct. 24) is right in saying that kids "learn things off the street" and this does indeed include issues of in general - which would be spoken of more than, and regardless of, who a specific fictional character chooses to give his love to in or out of the immediate story to which he belongs. Daniel from Philly also put it quite nicely: �the main way that kids are exposed to this knowledge is from all the loud noises that adults are making over it.�

However, I certainly hope this detail is kept out of the movies as it was kept out of the books for the same reasons I'm glad is was kept out of the books - it spawns unnecessary and unfair opinions (and not just negative ones) that are based on, let's face it, the aunce's politics rather than the character's personality and purpose, and, as many have also stated, it has nothing to do with the story at hand.

Posted by monkeeshrines from orlando fl on October 25, 2007 5:04 PM

It's just interesting that they are children and adult editions available (even if their only difference is the covers) - so they are definately geared towards children AND adults.

It is also interesting Michelle (and probably a lot more people) would let a child as young as 7 read the "Harry Potter" series - and thus confronting a child as young as seven with topics like , Pain, Torture, War, ing, Cruelty and Evil! But the topic of ity (which isn't even mentioned in the books) is thought to be a threat...
I personally would rather let my kid read a book that shows a man loving a man than men ing and torturing men...

Posted by Siena from Leeds, UK on October 26, 2007 02:19 AM

How does the fact that Dumbledore was change anything about wheither the books are for children or not? ity is just as suitable for children as ity.

Also, what makes us so sure that Lockheart was ? That statement is only based on prejudices and no real facts.

Posted by Alice on October 26, 2007 05:26 AM

i never would have suspected dumbledore to be ! although, i do kind of think some of you are blowing it way out of proportion. there are a lot of people in the world, so why is it such an ordeal that dumbledore is ? i think j.k. did great in revealing that when she did because even though the series is over, harry potter fans can still learn knew things about the books and characters. dumbledore was such an interesting person that had so many secrets and being was just one of his secrets.

Posted by victoria from vancouver alaska on October 26, 2007 06:04 AM

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