When Tyler Cowen interviewed Margaret Atwood last month, someone in the audience of course asked her what she thought of the Hulu Handmaid's Tale. Unfortunately the transcript doesn't cover the question and answer period, so I'm working from memory here. The questioner said she didn't like the TV show because it changed too much, for example, they use the main character's name, which does not appear in the book. Atwood said that the name they use was arrived at by noting that of all the names mentioned in the opening scene, only one never appears again; which, she said, never occurred to her, but it's in the book so she didn't mind. The questioner said, I hated that because I thought the whole point was that she was denied her name. Atwood said, "That isn't in the book, it's something the readers put there."
This made me wonder; does this happen with every book that has a community of devoted readers? What have we read into Lord of the Rings, or the Foundation trilogy?
I suppose a more serious example is all the stuff people claim to have read in the Bible, which others deny, like the Trinity.
Anyway this just set me thinking about the relationship between a community of readers and a book, and how it is changed by the people who love it.