February 19, 2007

The Hamlet of Last Tuesday

For if, as many reader-response critics argue, the poem truly exists only when it is apprehended, then we seem to be driven toward the conclusion that there are as many Hamlets as there are readers of Hamlet. More accurately, there are as many Hamlets as there are readings, for our responses change from year to year, or even from day to day.
Donald Keesey "Reader-Response Criticism: Audience as Context"

To re-read is to get a new persepective on the text, or the find meaning where there wasn't meaning before, or to savor an enjoyable story, or, to create a completely new story.

Reader-Responce literary criticism is taking steps to ensure that the reader doesn't fall off the literary spectrum. Without a reader, there isn't a text - because does a text exsit if there isn't anyone there to read it? It goes along the same lines as, if a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, did it make a sound? The answer is yes, there is a text, yes, the tree did make a sound, but there was no audience - so if there is a text or isn't, it doesn't matter - no one heard it.

Posted by Diana Geleskie at February 19, 2007 10:58 PM | TrackBack
Comments

Without a reader, there isn't a text - because does a text exsit if there isn't anyone there to read it? It goes along the same lines as, if a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, did it make a sound?

That should be posted on my wall somewhere....

I agree with that notion 100%. I stated on my blog that it is reader that make great writers. We are not just talking about intended readers either. If you wrote a novel and it survived 300 years, I have a strong feeling that you will not be the MAIN focus of the critique. It will be the story itself...WHY? It is because the reader and the text have a bond when the after the reader finishes the first word of the text, a relationship that should tell everyone else about the text.

Posted by: Kevin "Kelo The Great" Hinton at February 20, 2007 1:41 AM

I agree with both of you.

Diana -

A work does tend to exsist once words are put to paper. However, in order for readers to find the work the work must first be published somewhere for the readers to respond to it. But then again maybe the author had a family member read it and he or she told the author it totally blew and that is the only reader-response the author has. ;-)

Kevin -

Good call on the readers making the author popular. All critics at some point are readers otherwise how would they know what to critique! I also agree that the reader does have a relationship with the text, however I don't think that we should pass up the understanding that readers respond differently and in this response they may choose to critique it differently as well, even if the critique started as a response.

Posted by: Tiffany at February 20, 2007 4:52 PM

I agree for the most part, but really I think that factors contribute to being a great writer, including the readers interpretation. An audience of our time may love Tolkien, but the question is, what effect will he have on the eras after him? The reasons that these writers are so great is because multiple generations have found something important behind the literature. The writer creates the text, but the reader keeps the text alive and admired for years and years after their his or her death.

Consider Shakespeare for a minute: Imagine if Shakespeare were a terrible playwright in their time period because his audience hated his plays, but people in the eras afterward found his work to be amazing. I agree with you that the importance of the reader is crucial, but I believe that both writer and reader go hand in hand to make a piece of literature so influential to the time periods afterward.

I think that Tiffany creates a good point to remember about the critique as well as the response. I figured I should mention that in this long, long entry.

Posted by: Jason Pugh at February 21, 2007 2:44 PM
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