What's my line?...
Posted by Nathalie R. on July 28, 1998 at 03:19:02:
In response to "Literary Theory", written by Erin on July 27, 1998 at 18:10:27
This is a very important essay - especially in view of what the last paragraph outlines. I'm glad you brought it to our attention and extend my thanks for the link! I am not a computer literate creature (after all, I've been lurking mostly out of fear since the Blue Marble days!) and could not do links myself.
My first thought was to try and define my own approach to interpreting the text of P&P from among the assorted theories described by Mr. Cox. I would not be surprised at all to find that we are in agreement as to how to operate.
The Ayn Rand approach seems very feasible to me since it follows Aristotelian(?) demands for objectivity and for unity within the work by a consistency of authorial purpose. The modern twist also combines with the classic, allowing for the presence of individuality of creative choice in defining the 'meaning'.
Believe it or not, I am not concerned with any Freudian assumptions regarding JA's own motivations for her choices. I hope no one is thinking that I am trying to impose a Freudian order on the total scope of P&P if I invoke certain of his theories. I believe there is enough universality of awareness in the idea of "subconscious attraction" whereby ordinary readers of any era would know it is possible for people to hide certain truths from themselves so well as to appear 'blind' to their own reality. This behavior was not invented when Freud came along and an astute scholar of human nature such as JA surely would be cognizant of such a process. We can only surmise this from such evidence as offered by her penetrating insights into other areas of human self deception.
Would I be wrong in saying that you (Danielle & Joan,too...etc) would classify me as a devotee of the 'New Criticism' school - discovering 'as many meanings in a text as my own ingenuity could possibly supply'? I honestly don't want to follow such thinking except in its appreciation of 'richness'. I try to find textual evidence in support of the author's intent. Difficulties are encountered when a single sentence may be seen in two or more ways without any hint of purposeful ambiguity on JA's part. For example,..."I may safely promise you never to dance with him."...is used as evidence in both camps. Danielle has interpreted this as Lizzy's nonchalant acceptance of Darcy's dislike and the probable lack of future invitations from him, whereas I see it as a response to a challenge - even with a vehemence since 'never' is italicized.
"How can we be sure that the meaning we find in a text is the same one that the author intended?" There are no ways to be absolutely sure when the author is from a different age - obviously. The only way to see if you are in the ballpark of validity with your thinking is to share your ideas with others (as we do here) and to research critical opinion. My quoting of literary critical analyses serves an egocentric purpose as well - how can I be delusional if perfectly rational - indeed scholarly - followers of JA's work share the same views I do? I do not expect others to be swayed by these quotes - just as I wouldn't be with any of theirs.
How do you see yourselves defined as literary critics?
- Distinctions Joan, too 17:32:39 7/28/98 (2)
- Well... Danielle W. 11:05:43 7/28/98 (0)
- Will the mystery guest please stand up? Joan, too 05:40:19 7/28/98 (0)
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