Spoiler Warnings — A Necessary Part of the Social Contract

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was the source of much spoiler controversy when first published in 2005, and again when adapted to the screen in 2009. Photo: Warner Bros.

A couple years ago, I was enrolled in a Gothic literature class, and I took some heat from the professor because I hadn’t read the foreword of the book we had just started. (As I recall, the book was Ann Radcliffe’s 1791 novel The Romance of the Forest.)

My defense was simple. Forewords and introductions have a tendency to contain spoilers, and I wished to avoid…