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When there are ambiguous elements in books, whose interpretation is the correct one: the author's or the reader's?

The author’s (assuming they reveal it in an interview or something) or the reader’s (they usually interpret while reading the comic, before watching/reading the filmmaker’s interview)? Is it different when the book in question has one ambiguous element and when the entire plot is ambiguous?

Same question can apply to movies, and often does.

If a film/book has a deliberately ambiguous moment, and the author film maker later reveals what they believe happened, this is just their opinion. When you hand a piece of art over the public you are free to interpret how you want and your opinion is just as valid.

The classic example that comes immediately to mind is the film Drive. At the end, the Driver drives away and we don’t know if he’ll live or die. My immediate thought at the end of that film was that he is going off to die. Later the film maker said that he thought the Driver lived, and he may even do more films with the character.

Until you give us another movie, the directors opinion is only that. If he wanted his films ending to be conclusive, he had the chance when he first made it. There is no point being arty and vague with an ending, if you just want to tell us later that you think the guy lives.

Calls for a great article nonetheless.

  • It would be interesting to discuss John Green, who refuses to answer questions about ambiguous events in his books (or symbolism, or what happened afterward) because he believes books belong to their readers and anything they interpret could be true. – Grace Maich 7 years ago
  • Yes yes I'm so passionate about this topic! Does the book belong to the reader or the author? JK Rowling and John Green definitely support the idea of the reader having their own interpretations, but maybe seek out the other opinion, like authors who strongly support author-only interpretations. – Taylorsteen 7 years ago
  • Currently in academia it is agreed upon to be up to the reader, because as they say "The Author is Dead." But it would be interesting to explore the hypocrocy. Many will say the author is dead in one case and then when it comes to David Foster Wallace, his word is literary law to the point that people are wondering if Wallace would be for or against the film about him. If the author is truely dead then why the hell would we care what David Foster Wallace would think? Yet, you say this and the literary mob will come at you with fire and pitchforks. An article on this topic should really enter into the academic conversation as well as the fandoms. It should have a nice works cited. – Erin Derwin 7 years ago

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