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"The true writer is the reader", (Eagleton). To what extent, if at all, do you agree with Eagleton's statement.

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Introduction

"The true writer is the reader", (Eagleton). To what extent, if at all, do you agree with Eagleton's statement. This essay will be focusing on the central tenets of reception theory, which led to Eagleton's statement "The true writer is the reader" and will also evaluate the significance of this statement for the practice of literary criticism Reception theory, sometimes called 'reception aesthetics' or 'reader response' is a recent development, which began in Germany, in the late 1960s, in a climate of literary change and general social unrest. The theory is based on the conviction of the centrality of the reader's role in determining meaning. This was a significant shift of attention to the reader from a preoccupation with the author, in the nineteenth century (Romanticism) and an isolated concern with the text (New Criticism). The doctrine is founded on liberal humanist ideology: a belief that in reading, a reader should be flexible and open-minded, prepared to put his/her beliefs into question and allow them to be transformed. A fundamental problem in literary studies is why different people produce different interpretations of a text. According to Durrant and Fabb in 'Literary Studies in Action' (1990, Chapter 7), the act of reading involves the reader in decoding the text and drawing on a multitude of inferences. For example, the first three lines, taken from 'The Bluest Eye' (Toni Morrison) ...read more.

Middle

22) In a collection of essays on prose fiction 'The Implied Reader' (1974), Iser introduces the term the 'Implied Reader' whom the text creates for itself and amounts to 'a network of response-inviting structures' (ibid, p.34), which predisposes the 'actual reader' to read in certain ways. The 'actual' reader's received mental images from the text will inevitably be coloured by the reader's 'existing stock of experience'. Therefore the experience of reading will differ according to the reader's past experiences. Freund in 'The Return of the Reader' (1987,p. 147) affirms that Iser '...attempt[s] to accommodate as broad a spectrum of theoretical speculation as possible, and to integrate it all within a total theory of reading, which will do justice to every component in the act of communication: author, text, reader, the world, the process of reception ...in the one model of aesthetic response...' culminating in disorientation and akin to an 'entry to a labyrinth'. Iser is content in asserting that different readers are free to actualize the work in different ways, and there is no single correct interpretation, which will exhaust its semantic potential, however, he also maintains that the reader must render the text internally 'consistent' or mutually coherent through the combination of the greatest number of its elements. This mirrors Ingarden's view, negating Iser's pluralist insistence. ...read more.

Conclusion

To conclude, reception theory aims to provide a model for critical practice and reader-centered criticism and is now recognized as a competing literary strategy. According to Maclean in 'Modern Literary Theory' (1989, p.142), '...this area of criticism threatens to engulf all [previous] approaches'. He also maintains that 'the role of the historically and culturally situated reader in constituting the meaning of texts has been highlighted. Bibliorgaphy C.Belsey (1996) Critical Practice. London, Routledge. D.Bleich (1978) Subjective Criticism. London, Johns Hopkins University Press. T.Eagleton (1995) Literary Theory:An Introduction. Oxford, Blackwell publishers. S.Fish (1972) Self-Consuming Artifacts: The Experience of seventeenth century literature. Berkeley, University of California press. S.Fish (1980) Is There a Text in this class:The Authority of Interpretive Communities, Cambridge, USA, Harvard University press. E.Freund (1987) The Return of the Reader: Reader Response Criticism. London, Methuen. H.G.Gadamer (1960) Truth and Method. London. R.Ingarden (1973) [1931] The Literary Work of Art. Evanston, Northwestern University Press. W.Iser (1974) The Implied Reader. Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press. W.Iser (1978) The Act of Reading: A Theory of Aesthetic Response. London, Routledge. H.R.Jauss (1974) Literary History as a Challenge to Literary Theory: New Directions in Literary History. London, Routledge. I.Maclean (1989) Modern Literary Theory. London, B.T.Batsford Ltd. T.Morrison (1999) The Bluest Eye. London, Vintage. G.Poulet (1969) The Interior Distance. Paris, Ann Arbor. J.P.Sartre (1978) What is Literature?. London. A.Durrant&N.Fabb (1996) Literary Studies in Action. London, Routledge. English Literature assessed essay 1 Majed Jazairi Majed Jazairi 2 ...read more.

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