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More Mary Sue



A quote from a Salon mag article by the redoubtable (what does that mean?) Laura Miller on the topic, showing that the concept is spreading rapidly; a neat distinction:

Because genre fiction tends to trade in wish fulfillment to begin with, you're far more likely to find shameless Mary Sues in mediocre mysteries, science fiction and romance novels. Even in the most routine series fiction, however, there's a distinction between the kind of character who embodies the fantasies of readers -- Nancy Drew, for example -- and a character who's really only working for the author.

www.salon.com/books/writing/index.html

Comments

womzilla
Apr. 27th, 2010 03:18 am (UTC)
Re: In defense of Mary Sue
I once read a fairly good discussion of the Mary Sue using the Harry Potter novels to make the distinction between an author identification character and a true Mary Sue. (Since the Harry Potter books are the closest thing we have to universally read novels now, they're useful for illustrating a number of concepts.)

Hermione Granger is an authorial identification character--Rowling has said that of all the characters, Hermione is the most like what she was as a teenager, and what she wanted to be. But she's not a glowing perfect heroine; she's awkward, and obsessive, and the other characters variously mistrust and dislike her; she's judgmental and has both a nasty temper and more than a touch of superiority. In short, she's something like a real character, even if somewhat polished up.

But there is a real Mary Sue lurking in the stories: Ginny Weasley. She's smart (enough), a sports hero, and she ends up with the star of the series, the most important boy in the world. And she's so lovely that even the bad guys comment on it.

On a larger level, Hermione is part of the narrative, but Ginny twists the narrative around herself--not catastrophically, as in a full-blown Mary Sue, but significantly.
(Anonymous)
Apr. 27th, 2010 03:59 am (UTC)
Re: In defense of Mary Sue
Except that Ginny has real flaws that you see which prevent her from being a Mary Sue IMO. Yes Ginny is smart and athletic and ends up with Harry but she also has a temper, is reckless, can be quick to judge, can be awkard when crushing on someone, was naive about the diary, is disliked by a few people etc that makes her not a Mary Sue.

And she's certainly part of the narrative, at least in CoS and I never got the impression that she was twisting the narrative around herself. Yes, there's an unreliable narrator who's in love with her but still, it's not significant enough. I just don't see where she's the real Sue. She's just as real as a character as Hermione, in fact, she's even more real than Hermione for me because no one goes around calling Ginny the brightest witch of her age in each book do they ? But then, for 7 books, we know far more about Ginny and her background than we ever do for Hermione who despite a lot of screen time in 7 books really lacks character development.

Hermione is not perfect per say but the overall impression I got is that I am most definitely supposed to find her amazing and perfect when I can't. She is always without fail portrayed as having been right all along and that everyone was a fool to not listen to her. In fact, she's praised for doing something (like hexing a person on their face for life) when another is hated for it (Umbridge)by not only the characters in the books but the author herself. And she also has some bad guys commentating on how lovely she is (not like Ginny where someone comments that she's pretty but on how amazing smart she is) and she certainly has no shortage of suitors herself. JKR IMO walks a very thin line with Hermione through out the series and by the end of DH I think she was quite possibly the person I would say was the closest anyone came to being a Sue in Harry Potter.

~ Linds who got to this post by clicking some post on a forum, sorry to butt in like that !
(Anonymous)
Apr. 27th, 2010 04:03 am (UTC)
Re: In defense of Mary Sue
I think basically my long post was to say that I don't think Hermione from Harry Potter is a good way to make a distinction between a self-identification author and a Mary Sue because it's not very distinct in the books IMO. Hermione certainly turns out to be the most important side character without whom the "most important boy in the series" would have been lost and she saves the day many a times with her brilliance and there are just a few moments there and here where people comment on how damn intolerable and obnoxious she really is.

Both Hermione and Luna do get very sued in fanfiction from what I have seen though. Yes, I get that people identify with them a lot but then they do turn into these amazing vixens around whom the whole world revolves.
crowleycrow
Apr. 29th, 2010 07:23 pm (UTC)
Re: In defense of Mary Sue
Just so you don't risk arousing the gleeful ire of the nitpickers around here (e.g. me) -- you should know that the phrase is per se, Latin for "in and of and by itself" (those Latin prepositions are shifty).
lizhand
Apr. 27th, 2010 10:18 am (UTC)
Re: In defense of Mary Sue
Ah, okay, I think I get it. Thanks — Womzilla explains It All To You!