Hi! This feels a bit pretentious but... I studied English literature (BA & MA) at York St. John and University of Leeds, and Education & Training (PGDip) in Brad
Junior Contributor I
Fan Fiction: Credible Art Form or 'Kind of Lame'?
Fan fiction seems to be a bit like Marmite: fans of original fiction either love it or hate it.
When I took my ‘first foray’ into the realms of fan fiction, I was surprised to encounter a wider range of sub-genres, tropes and terminology than I had realised…
Sequels and prequels to other authors’ narratives, along with spin-off texts, new characters and ‘non cannon’ rewrites can prove contentious–especially when fans feel that the new text undermines or distorts aspects of the original work.
Yet, for some people, it extends the enjoyment gained from the original text and adds dimensions to the fictional universe in question. It can prove satisfying to read (or write) a character’s backstory or find out what happens next–even if these events and characters were created by someone else and/or not generally considered to be ‘cannon.’
In some cases, prequels, sequels and rewrites by different writers–without the approval or authorisation of the original author-have become published or otherwise firmly established in mainstream culture. Examples include Jean Rhys’s ‘Wide Sargasso Sea’ (a prequel to Charlotte Bronte’s ‘Jane Eyre’), and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s stage adaption (and rewrite) of Gaston Leroux’s ‘Phantom of the Opera’ and a sequel, ‘Love Never Dies.’
In the case of the latter, Lloyd Webber’s narrative is arguably better known than the story it was based on.
Does this mean that, what essentially began as a form of fan fiction has now entered the literary/cultural ‘cannon’? If so, at what point does this happen and how do we decide which ‘fan fictions’ become ‘cannon’?
I’d love to hear other people’s thoughts on the topic of fan fiction, particularly with regards to ‘intertextuality’ and Barthes’ theories on ‘The Death of the Author.’