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J.K. Rowling adopts pseudonym, Robert Galbraith, on front cover of mystery novel

 

Even after multiple readings and viewings
of the entire “Harry Potter” series, I am
still in awe of the author who produced
them. I have tremendous respect for J.K.
Rowling. Her novels leave me with a positive
impression of who she is not only as an
author, but as a person. They instill lessons
of community, theology and mythology, while
breathing life into the magic many of us
hope really does exist. This is what I admire
in J.K. Rowling. I believe that writing is a
reflection of the person who produced it.
Perhaps more so than the final product of
her writing, I like to hear about the process
Rowling went through to have her work
published. She had a vision that she pushed
through to the end, though unaware of the
success that awaited her. I will conclude my
fan-girl rant by saying that it was her integrity
and perseverance that saw her dream
through to the end.
Now that I have explained my admiration
of Rowling, you can probably imagine my
excitement when I came across a new

Rowling mystery novel while perusing
Amazon. “The Cuckoo’s Calling” had great
reviews. Further examination revealed that
the novel, while admittedly by J.K. Rowling,
was not directly published under her
distinctive initialed title, however, but under
a man’s name: Robert Galbraith.
The pseudonym is puzzling to me. My
reaction is to start brainstorming reasons
behind this decision. On a very simple
front, Rowling’s name is actually printed on
the inside of the book jacket. The effort of
putting a pseudonym on the front is weak
and appears half-hearted anyway. Why
do it at all? The mere cover photo and
title are not reminiscent of J.K. Rowling in
the slightest. The point of this choice is
unclear.
From a feminist angle, I must note that
in less modern times, women had to write
under male pseudonyms in order to be
published at all. Publishing has been a
predominantly male business throughout
history, and it seems unnecessary to add
to that in the present. Besides the fact that
she chose a pseudonym at all, I question
why it is a man’s name. Today, publishing
under a male pseudonym is not only
unnecessary, but it also reflects lack of
confidence. It causes the author to appear

timid, or uncertain of her work. Rowling
has no reason to have this uncertainty.
Her fans are nothing but supportive.
Maybe it is this extreme level of
support that changes how Rowling
sees her writing though. I take another
look at Rowling’s choice and try to
imagine what it would be like to be
an author who wrote one of the most
popular book series in the world. I
understand that it might be difficult to
continue writing coming off of that. I
do sympathize with J.K. Rowling for
this reason. I would like to venture a
guess that Rowling wanted to see how
it would feel to write as someone else.
This would be a reason I could respect.
Dissociating herself from her work may
have helped her to write something
entirely new.
After completing my own reading
of the book, I can say that this work
is truly something new. From a basic
standpoint of language, it is a far cry
from Harry Potter. Profanity, sex and
drugs are all used throughout to propel
the novel and provide explanations for
character backgrounds. Needless to say,
it is not really comparable with Harry
Potter in many ways.

Yet the writing style is still very much
JK Rowling. She cannot help but make
herself known in this way, and I think there
is something to be said for that. True fans
will recognize her without the “Harry Potter”
stamp on the cover.
As I mentioned previously, there is little
doubt in my mind that JK Rowling worked
really hard to have her “Harry Potter” series
published. Based on the sheer amount
of time and effort she put into her work, it
seems Rowling believed in every word she
wrote. She deserves to take just as much
credit for her latest mystery novel as she
did for the “Harry Potter” series.
Hoping to write my own novel in the
future, I want to read things that will inspire
me in the way that JK Rowling does. She is
a role model.
And because of that, I want her to
exhibit the confidence in her writing
that I hope to have one day. I would
be disappointed if publishing under a
pseudonym became a trend. I want her to
take pride in her work equal to the amount
of my respect for it.

 

Mary McDermott is a junior english major
from Westborough, Mass. She can be reached
at mmcderm5@villanova.edu.

 

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