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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 15)

Dumbledore mentions to Harry all the time that the true power of the world is Love. He knows this because of the three main examples he has: His own unrequited love for Grindelwald, because of Snape's love for Lily, and James and Lily's love for Harry.

I think that Dumbledore never mentions that he is because it is immaterial for everything except a heightened understanding of Dumbledore's motives in following Grindelwald. Dumbledore knows that love can not only lead one to do right, but can lead one to make mistakes as well. (and although I dont know if Jo has said anything about it or not, but I dont think that Grindelwald even knew of Dumbledore's feelings towards him - remember, they were still fairly young at the time of the fight between them.)

This detail, however, also gives new insight into how Dumbledore understood Snape so well - they both loved someone from whom love was not returned. In creating the characters, Jo needed a basis for why they acted the way they did. In her mind, this was just one of many justifications. It neither enhances or diminishes the character of Dumbledore, but does add some understanding of it.

Posted by Jim from Pennsylvania on October 26, 2007 06:15 AM

i dont know about the whole clues thing. i have no problem with dumbledore being i just think some people are making too big a deal of it. i mean come on you guys, j.k. announces something you didnt know and you freak out and try to look for clues and then wonder how you didnt see it before.dont you think thats a bit extreme?

i agree with monkeeshrines from orlando florida on his statemant that i am dissapointed at the fact that people are losing respect for dumbledore just because he was a little different then they pictured him! people still love The Ellen Degenerous Show and she is . ya, i had no idea dumbledore was , but i also had no idea that it would cause this much commotion.

i respect jo for all the work she has put into the series and i feel really bad for her because she revealed something that has been there all along and just wasnt noticed, and now look at everything going on, like people loosing respect for one of the most important characters in the books.

Posted by sheyanne from hawaii on October 26, 2007 06:26 AM

I just wanted to respond to Sienna: I never said that my kids read the HP series. In fact, they have not, they're not even that much interested in HP other than the fact that they like magic. I merely said that at 7 years old, they were capable of reading books of the HP caliber.

My issues with JKR's statements are based on principle and not on my actual personal feelings on the matter. My own kids have grown up around extended family members who are , so the Dumbledore announcement wouldn't even register with them. In fact, I likely share most of JKR's viewpoints. However, I'm not so narcissistic as to assume that the way I raise my kids is the way every other parent should raise their children. Certainly there are many many parents who raise their kids in a manner that I disagree with, but of course they have the right to raise their kids as they choose, so long as it's not abusive.

Last time I read an adult book, the characters weren't named such silly (in a funny way) names as Dumbledore, Petunia, Sprout, or Fudge; there were no "bat-bogey" hexes; adults didn't refer to the big mean scary guy as "You Know Who", and humor wasn't defined by booger-flavored jellybeans or U No Poo constipation sensation. However, if others feel that this defines "adult", then go for it.

There is no shame in admitting that you enjoy children's books. For the same reason that there was no shame in admitting that adults liked movies such as Star Wars or Finding Nemo, or laughed aloud at comics like Peanuts or Calvin & Hobbes. It's called being young at heart, and I found the series to be a joy to read because it allowed me a mental journey of youth and friendship and love.

My issue with JKR is that on principle, I do not like to use children as a springboard to make political, religious, or personal statements. I do not like to assume that I am doing the "greater good" by pushing my beliefs on others. Everyone needs to learn tolerance.

Posted by Michelle on October 26, 2007 08:53 AM

In response to Michelle; I'm not so sure the Harry Potter series was just meant for children. The names Rowling uses are, at most times, silly and fun, but if you delve into the meaning of these names, you find that almost every name has a deeper meaning. In this way, Rowling was able to appeal to both children and adults. Her series can be considered a children's series, if you read it that way. If you read it from the perspective of an adult, you find a much deeper story than just the coming of age of the main characters and the story of good over evil. I'm not sure what you meant to say with your last paragraph, but I don't believe that Rowling was trying to make a statement by saying that Dumbledore was , nor was she attempting to push her beliefs upon others. She has merely created a story in which, arguably, the most powerful character happened to be .

Posted by Alex from Miamisburg, Ohio on October 26, 2007 12:45 PM

personally, i couldn't care less what Dumbledore was. he was brilliant and funny and i love him just for that. i'm suprised JK said that, though. already, alot of people are drawn away from harry potter books because it mocks god and religion (i dissaggree with that too, by the way, but thats getting off topic) and plus with all the predudice against people, more and more be deprived from the joy and the message of harry potter. i'm just saying i never would've said that.

Posted by potter person on October 26, 2007 3:09 PM

It's pointless to argue that JK shouldn't have done this because "some parents might not want their kids to know about s".

True, and many of those same parents don't want their kids thinking that being a witch or wizard is cool either. Maybe JK just shouldn't have written the books at all in the first place so as not to offend people with a religious objection to the practice of magic?

There are always going to be people who don't like or approve of one thing or another. It's virtually impossible to completely conceal those things one doesn't like unless one chooses to hide out and raise one's kids in some isolated mountain hideaway.

This revelation is a tempest in a teapot. JK has merely identified Dumbledore as being . She hasn't gone back re-edited the books to insert graphic scenes of him snogging Grindelwald in flashback. And I have to say that a lot of people unknowingly reveal a shocking level of prejudice when the mere existence of a group they don't like is so automatically offensive to them.

Why am I reminded of Walburga Black, who burned the names of squibs and "blood traitors" off the Black family tree so that she could deny their very existence?

Posted by Daniel from Philly, PA on October 26, 2007 10:21 PM

I would like to apologize to Michelle for the tone of my comment, it sounded accusingly and I don't have the right to accuse anyone in the frame of this site; so: I'm sorry.

I am, however, concerned that the issue of Dumbledore being receives so much press attention and parents concern, and it isn't even present in the books, it's just a comment Rowling made later on.

In my opinion there are topics raised in the Harry Potter series that are really worth mentioning and that really should raise concern: There's undeniably a lot of violence, people get tortured into insanity, ed and sacrificed; Harry Potter suffers neglect and abuse at the Dursleys,there is a werewolf with an appetite for young girls' flesh(!), there's a sadistic teacher (Umbridge), the school gets controlled by the ministry and last but not least, the society the Eaters would dream of establishing involves the wipe out of a race; the "Muggle-Borns", and they offensively call them "Mudblood". The references to Nazi Germany are clear (and Rowling stated her ideas as such).

You said, Michelle (and rightly so), you don't like children acting as a platform for political issues - but, assuming that what you said is true and the books were mainly aimed at children, they are confronted with political issues of a rather heavy calibre here!

This is what I really meant to say: Everyone is really concerned about the " issue" in relation to kids, but no one bothers about the violence and the references to the Holocaust the books inflict upon children!

I should think these issues are a lot more difficult to explain to children than find an answer to the question: "Mummy, what does mean?" I was also puzzled when I went to see the films how many really young children were present, I personally wouldn't let a child under 13 watch any of the movies, whether I was present or not. What should a mother do when a violent scene comes up? Cover up the kid's eyes?

As for the names used in the books, a lot of (adult) authors play around with the meanings of the names of their characters in relation to what their intentions are.
Kafka and Thomas Mann did that most brilliantly, and so did D.H. Lawrence and Thomas Pynchon and... the list goes on.. and they have all written for adults.

Yes, some of the humour in the book is childish, but a lot of it is so subtle and rather a parody of our society, habits, systems, ways.. and definately only for older readers to grasp. Think about some of Dumbledore's quotes or Slughorn's character, do you think kids would grasp Dumbledore's fine wit or Slughorn's comfortable whiskey- infused tweedy-ness?

Posted by Siena from Leeds, UK on October 27, 2007 03:22 AM

who can say what should and shouldent be relevant?

Albus is a fictional character who through the writers choice was made to be , and while its not an absolutely necessity to know this, its still most certainly relevant to the plot because I'm quite sure that had something to do with the character he is and the decisions he made and his attitude towards the world.

Ive always thought Albus had an equal part in Harry defeating Voldemort which was where the story began and ended. I do care, to know, this information.

Now I wonder if Aberforth Dumbledore too...

Posted by Bert from Perth on October 27, 2007 05:43 AM

I would have NEVER thought of Dumbeldore as a wizard. Even though we discover tons of new stuff by the end of HP7, I never thought this would be one of the things to be learnt.

Agreeing with a previous poster, I think it is not 100% apropiate, I mean, it is a kids book after all!

Why now? 3 months after realising the last book comes out this HUGE revelation, it makes no difference in the plot of the story now. It os ok if JK wants to make her characters , but let it have a reason, if not, it is just talking for talking.

In my opinion, there are not enough proofs to show this, and the quotes from the article, just show family love. Let JK keep her comments, I think all her other work is brilliant, except for this last remark.

Posted by Maureen from Santiago, Chile on October 27, 2007 4:16 PM

i don't think it has anything to do with the relationship between harry and dumbledore but it wasn't really necessary to say that... i mean I really don't care but there are people who ...

Posted by jordan on October 27, 2007 7:18 PM

i should have never read this, it destroyed the books for me, honestly why on earth would you introduce something like this in a story of this kind, its not a teen drama or something im very dissapointed..

Posted by Dvin from Glendale, CA on October 27, 2007 8:32 PM

Why does it even matter if Albus is ? Does ones change their personality? Would he have wanted to save the world less or more if he had been eterosexual?

What should matter is that JKR has gotten so many people, and I don't mean only children, reading. And thinking about how things are in our world.

I personally think JKR was right not to tell us,the readers, from the beginning that Albus was . After reading some of the comments, I doubt she would have gotten this far then. The fact that she is an amazing writer would have been over-shadowed by bickering over her right to say what she wanted about her own characters.

We liked Dumbledore through the books, except that moment between pages 551 and 565, and we don't really care if he's or not.

Posted by acidrain on October 28, 2007 05:28 AM

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