In what ways might it be possible to think of a literary text as possessing an 'unconscious'?

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In what ways might it be possible to think of a literary text as possessing an ‘unconscious’?

‘Writing unfolds like a game that inevitably moves beyond its own rules and finally leaves them behind.’ 

        As Foucault points out here, a text is capable of ‘leaving itself behind’, or perhaps, leaving behind the rules that have been given to it by the creator of the text. What the author has written is not always what the reader takes from the text, and meanings can be found where none, perhaps, was intended.

Critics are capable of finding many different, and sometimes contrasting readings of the same text. The author, as Barthes points out ‘is the past of his own book.’ The reader, then is the future of the book, and in fact, many futures at once, as each reader gains something different from the text. As the ownership of the text can be said to leave the author as the words are written, if we are to follow Barthes view on the matter, but yet the reader cannot truly claim ownership of the text, or certainly not a sole ownership, considering the myriad different readings possible. Therefore, it seems that the text must maintain some kind of ‘unconscious’ in keeping these readings and possible meanings in store until a discovery. The author, perhaps, is the conscious of the text, and all that comes after is suggested by the text itself, and how it reacts to the time in which it is read, and not only written.

However, far more importantly in the search for the unconscious of the text is the ideology. In fact, if you were to view the text as more of a personage, as having a personality, rather than an inanimate page of words, it could be said to have an ideology of its own, not just that which is given to it.

Marxist critics argue that it is impossible for a text to exist in a vacuum, and that it must be a product of its own time and place:

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‘The frontiers of a book are never clear cut: beyond the title, first lines and the last full stop, beyond its internal configuration and its autonomous form, it is caught up in a system of references to other books.’

Seán Burke claims that ‘Within such a vast, unified and all-inclusive episteme, the work of individual authors will serve merely as indices, as regional instances of the infrastructural network of logocentric determinations.’ As such, the author disappears, merely a method for revealing and relating the culture of the day. The text itself is reliant on the time in which it is written, ...

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