Writing

John Green Responds

Originally Published: 6th February, 2016, x.

Yesterday, I wrote an article in which I boldly stated that John Green is dead. Or at least, recognises his own death as an author. I knew that I was stating a controversial opinion, so decided to turn to the author himself for an opinion.

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To my surprise, he replied.

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With a meagre Twitter presence of only 25 followers, and The Fault in Our Stars being one of my favourite reads in sixth form (I even went to The Week Before Our Stars screening of the film), you can imagine my shock when I got a reply from the author. However, it didn’t end there.

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Initially, Green appeared to be agreeing with my opinion. However, he then elaborated, suggesting that he disagrees with the ‘death’ of the author that Barthes so poignantly describes, instead viewing the author as a character within the text. Of course, I had to know more.

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Green appears to be combining the ideas of Samuel Beckett and Roland Barthes, wishing to extract himself from his writing, as well as acknowledging that this is impossible. Yet, while he is still consciously present in the text, his character is by no means in the foreground. Green supports the idea that by reading, each of us becomes our own author.

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This is interesting when you look at Green’s protagonists:

Hazel Grace Lancaster

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Shailene Woodley as Hazel in TFiOS

Sixteen-years-old, suffering from thyroid cancer with ‘mets’ (metastasis) in her lungs and enjoys reading poetry.

Quentin “Q” Jacobson

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Nat Wolff as Q in Paper Towns

Eighteen-years-old, hopelessly sensible and hopelessly in love with his neighbour, Margo Roth Spiegelman.

Miles “Pudge” Halter

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Charlie Rowe. Favourite to be cast as Pudge in LFA film.

A Junior who moves to boarding school. Is obsessed with the last words of famous people and is seeking his own ‘Great Perhaps’.

Colin Singleton

A child prodigy who is failing to live up to expectation. Has consecutively dated nineteen girls called Katherine, and is always the dumpee.

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Colin Ford, one fan’s ideal Colin from AAK (click on photo for link)

Just to name a few. Green is known for writing in the voice of teenagers, so perhaps this is his way of purifying his writing technique, much like Beckett did in Waiting for Godot by initially writing it in French. By writing in a way that is somehow dislocated from you, it forces you to think about what and how you are writing, rather than writing what comes naturally, which will be somewhat littered with the personality and experiences of the author.

If you want to see Pudge come to life, him and Alaska will be featuring in a film in 2017.

Have more questions for John? Vlogbrothers is updated by him and his brother, Hank, every Tuesday and Friday – watch out for his Question Tuesday announcements on hisTwitter and Facebook!

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