What is literature? My story about the world of fan fiction.

A book that is well written always seems to me too short. — Jane Austen

I agree 100%. For me, lately this refers not to books, but to fanfiction.

Many people consider fanfiction to be second-rate literature, but I will tell you that fanfiction is post-modern literature.

Fanfiction (abbreviated “fanfic”) is fiction created by fans based on some original work (usually literary or cinematic), using its plot, ideas, and characters. Fanfiction can be a sequel, prequel, parody, alternate universe, or crossover. Fanfiction is not created for commercial purposes, and is intended for reading by other fans.

Modern fanfiction is essentially a kind of folklore; the difference is that the original author is known for certain. The Cressida of Testament by Robert Henryson can be regarded as a very early form of fanfic. The story is based on the poem "Troilus and Cressida" by Geoffrey Chaucer and, like most fanfiction, it was created to fill gaps in the original work. In his story, Henryson introduced the tragic ending with the death of Cressida, since her tragic fate was not mentioned in the Chaucer version of the work.

It is believed that fanfiction as a phenomenon appeared relatively recently, but this is fundamentally wrong. “Scarlett,” Alexandra Ripley’s famous sequel to Margaret Mitchell’s novel "Gone With the Wind," and Alexander Volkov’s "The Wizard of the Emerald City," based on "The Amazing Wizard of Oz" by Lyman Frank Baum - what are these if not examples of fan creativity? These stories were based on someone else’s work because the fans didn’t want to leave their beloved heroes. When Arthur Conan Doyle stopped publishing books about Sherlock Holmes, his fans wrote their own stories about the adventures of their favorite character. The modern concept of fanfiction - as the artistic embodiment of a fandom through the interpretation of fans' own fantasies - was popularized and clearly defined by the Star Trek fandom and its science fiction magazines published in the 1960s.

Fanfiction looks like literature, but its tasks are different. The task of fanfic is to communicate with our favorite characters. The canon is not enough for us! Fanfic is usually written to fill gaps in the narration of the original work; it exists on the basis of incompleteness, clinging to some details in the original work and trying to describe the past, future, or unenlightened moments of the characters' lives in the present. Fanfiction is built on the curiosity of a true fan.

Fanfic developed on the Internet, the field of the free distribution of information, and it settled there on specialized sites. The addition of new material often occurs automatically, without censorship, and without strict selection of works. Because of this, it logically follows that the average quality level of fandom literature is low; yes, this is true, but it is wrong to conclude that fanfiction doesn’t have artistic and literary value. Fanfiction is often a workout, an opportunity to develop writing skills and enrich the vocabulary, and then as a result to write something amazing of one’s own.

However, don’t confuse fanfiction with plagiarism. Fanfic doesn’t set itself the goal of obtaining economic benefits (unlike Harry Potter knockoff “Tanya Grotter.”) Plagiarists, as a rule, use other people’s works for the purpose of making money. Fanfic writers don’t take anything for their work; they just give it to the world and are proud of the popularity of the work. Moreover, they refuse all rights of their work and give credit to the original work and its author.

The genre of fanfiction is an integral part of modern literature, gaining popularity each year. With the advent of the Internet, fanfic society rallied, expanded, and acquired the final features of a well-established branch of subculture. The circle of fanfic readers and writers has grown exponentially. The internet, therefore, has become a literary salon.

Don’t be afraid to read something new, something else, because it can also be amazing and unique.

LitPop

LitPop is the literary and cultural studies blog of the English Department at Purdue University Northwest. We publish accessible, engaging, web-native writing that explores literature and culture, new or old. Visit us: academics.pnw.edu/english/

Thanks to Jessica Elzinga

Anastasiia Overchuk

Written by

LitPop

LitPop

LitPop is the literary and cultural studies blog of the English Department at Purdue University Northwest. We publish accessible, engaging, web-native writing that explores literature and culture, new or old. Visit us: academics.pnw.edu/english/

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade