The Author Is Dead (was Re: Jane Austen was a lot of re that I snipped off)
Melissa at Proffitt.com
Sat Jun 23 01:34:05 EDT 2001
On Fri, 22 Jun 2001 22:39:43 +0100, Hallie O'Donovan wrote:
>Oddly enough, we just had a reference to Barthes and his writing
>about "the death of the author". We didn't have to read the
>original, thankfully, as we had his article on the realist effect,
>which I found pretty tough going! Anyway, the point made here was
>the balancing act necessary between "considering the context of the
>writing and the circumstances of the author's life, while allowing
>for the integrity of each literary text in and of itself." Later,
>when studying _The Colour Purple_, Walker's analogy of writing and
>quilting was used for studying texts. So the study of a text in
>context will use and piece together what other critics and scholars
>have written about the work, and the words of the author as well, if
>he/she has written about the work. I liked it, anyway.
Absolutely! That balancing act, in my opinion, hinges on not letting
someone else's scholarship keep you from discovering a new way to look at a
text. And letting context enhance your reading rather than limit it. Very
interesting image of quilting together different influences!
>The judgment issue is possibly related. I'm not trying to speak for
>Ven on this, but when I say that I'd sometimes use things outside a
>text to make judgments about the author, I don't necessarily mean
>that in the sense of "good person/bad person" judgment. But I *do*
>make judgments about where the author is coming from, as Ven put it.
>Isn't that part of what makes up the decision of whether an author is
>or is not a favourite for most people? Of course we've all made the
>decision that DWJ is a wonderful writer (whatever that might mean),
>but surely the perception that where she's coming from works for us
>is equally important. And some of the things she's written apart
>from her books, or said in interviews contribute to that sense of
>where she's coming from. Similarly with Connie Willis. Just to go
>even further out on a limb (might as well be hung for a sheep as a
>lamb), with Philip Pullman the sense of where he's coming from -
>partly derived from things outside his books - acts against my
>perception of his abilities as a writer. This isn't anything like a
>judgment of his worth as a person, but it is a judgment.
Do you mean sort of feeling as though the writer is someone you might like
as a person--someone who's, I don't know, a kindred spirit is the phrase I'm
coming up with? Because I'm trying to figure out if I do or don't make this
kind of judgement....
(who blames all you furriners on her inability to use American spellings)
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