LotR (was Re: reviews (but not of MC))

Otter Perry ottertee at silverwinggraphics.com
Sun Dec 14 12:02:23 EST 2003


On Saturday, December 13, 2003, at 09:57 PM, Robyn Starkey wrote:

>
>> I think that an allegory has to be intentional.
>
> Why?

Hmmmm.  Well, you folks are making me _think_ about this.  [small whine]

I guess what I'm doing is using the word allegory in a restrictive 
sense, meaning
a specific literary form.  Authors set out to write allegories on 
purpose.

>
>> I'm not saying that an author's intention affects whether a work can 
>> be _interpreted_
>> as an allegory.  In a way, _anything_ can be interpreted as an 
>> allegory.
>
> Doesn't this contradict what you just said. If I can read something as 
> allegory, or make a case for an allegorical reading, then how does 
> that relate to your statement about it having to be intentional?

What I should say here to be consistent is that any work can be 
interpreted
allegorically - that it can be interpreted as though it had been 
written as an
allegory.

>
>> But if the author says she or he didn't write one, then she or he 
>> didn't write one.
>
> Here's my problem with the whole "author states" position: what do you 
> do if you don't *know* what the author intended? Are you then allowed 
> to interpret whatever you want? Or are you banned from interpretation 
> at all, having no point of reference?

Lit crit is not my field.  Can you tell?

But, to be consistent, I guess I would have to say that I would be free 
to interpret
something allegorically if I like, but I would not be free to say it 
was an allegory.

Well, if it were _very_ clearly a genre work I would be able to say it 
was an
allegory.  So, for example, I don't _know_ that Hawthorne meant _The 
Celestial
Railroad_ as an allegory, but I would be disingenuous if I pretended he 
didn't.

[A word of warning here:  one of the things I 'learned' at university 
was to examine
  things through discussion.  I still formulate opinions through 
discussion.  So, if I
  subsequently say something quite different, it's because I'm still 
working on
  figuring out what I think.  My degree is in hair-splitting, 
incidentally.]

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