A migraine-inducing topic...;-)
Posted by Mylan on July 28, 1998 at 19:08:27:
In response to "Literary Theory", written by Erin on July 27, 1998 at 18:10:27
] The genesis of this post came out of the on-going debate about certain aspects of P&P, with opposing sides ultimately debating over what constitutes 'legitimate' interpretations of the text. Since P&P is a vary busy board, and this topic reaches outside of its scope, I thought we'd bring it over here. Enjoy!
So this is where you all went! Are we supposed to decide which theory is to be the legitimate interpretation or is this a show of hands to see how many followers each school of thought has?
I have read the essay, and after a couple of tylenol, has slowly regained my senses and now trying to figure out what school I belong to. (Actually I belong to the Kierkegaardian school of thought: "The truth that is true to me!" :-)
However, after some ponderings, I saw that the way I interprete Austen, (especially P&P) is a combination of parts of these theory:Aristotelian: "...assumes that an author's various purposes should be consistent with one another and that every element of a work - plot, character, style, and so forth - should contribute to those purposes, not frustrate or divert attention from them."
(In P&P context, the character of Lizzy frustrated me since her actions were not consistent with her purpose. As well, JA's purpose was to paint a strong-willed Lizzy, yet it did not come across to me as such if she was indeed indifferent toward Darcy).Current controversies: "...Its crucial assumption is that literature is "constructed" not by authors but by environmental influences, and that neither authors nor readers can "transcend" such influences."
I agree with this to a certain extend. I have always believe JA was a product of her environment - she might have some rebellious streaks, but as a whole, she very much believed in her era, and ultimately, its definition of a woman's purpose in life (all of her heroines married at the end of the novels). JA's lifetime was confined to her little corner of the world, she might have exceptional insights into human's peculiarities, but could she has intended for a reader to think a marriageable female could be so free from ignoble thoughts regarding a potential suitor (a concept which is readily accepted these days) just because he snubbed her? Given a time when marriage was on the top of the "to do" list...
Even though I am partial to the New Criticism school in that the richness of the literary text itself is also important, I do not wish to disregard the circumstance in which the work was written, based on my belief above.
Since I haven't read Hirsch's work yet, those question that Cox raised bothered me too, so I can't really comment on the Chicago School of critism.
(I read something on Kierkegaard a while ago that I am in agreement with. It is that according to Kierkegaard (sp?) when a person says that his thought conforms to the thing that he is comprehending, and then identify thinking with being, without being aware of the process that was required to fully understand the object in question, then he just deceive himself. In my understanding of the statement, this fits Lizzy quite well. She thought she hated Darcy because it conformed with what she knew of him, she then assumed that because she thought so, it must be a reality. At that point I, as a reader, thought the same as well, but we are both deceiving ourselves, because when we were made aware of the process of understanding Darcy's character, we are no longer being deceived. Please understand that I do not want to interpret P&P in term of Kierkegaard, only try to identify some of my thought proccess that lead to my present understanding of P&P :-)
So then to conclude, I have no idea what school I belong to, I only know that I arrived at my conclusion by assimilate ideas from various school (which I only know the names of today;-) So I must be reasonably sane, since I do agree with some great literary figures! I do not know what JA's intention was, (except for the moral lessons), since whatever I was told as JA's intention were assumptions and inferences from other people as well. Her "text" were "rich" to the point that two people reading the same sentence would understand it in two different ways. I don't think we can decide on who has the right interpretation, because, like Cox said," ultimately, literary theory is about the human mind and its processes of communication. It is about our ability to understand what people say, write, and mean." So to say "The way I interpret this is right, therefore, you must be wrong" is almost like saying: "There is something the matter with your mind!" And I like to think that there is nothing wrong with any of the minds here ;-)
- Migrane-inducing consequences of negating authorial intentions Joan, too 22:30:37 7/28/98 (4)
- Migrane-inducing consequences of negating authorial intentions Joan, too 22:28:45 7/28/98 (0)
- ... Erin 21:56:17 7/28/98 (1)
- Ambiguous antecedents Joan, too 22:41:11 7/28/98 (0)
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