Keesey: Another introduction is another good place to start

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"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" (Keesey 133).

     I'm not sure why this is such a problem, or how this point can be argued.  I stated in an earlier blog that when I read certain novels from my childhood, then reread them later in life the messages I recieved changed from reading to reading.  I do think that there is a general understanding that will be noticed by most, but this general understanding will have tweeks and small differences from person to person and time to time.  If asked what I want for breakfast on Monday afternoon, I might say nothing because I'm not usually hungry in the mornings.  But if I am not afforded the opportunity to eat dinner on Monday night, you can be sure by Tuesday morning I will likely have changed my mind concerning breakfast.  Each day is an event that changes us, and each time we change, each time we grow, so do the messages we read in a text.  There is nothing that can be done about it, not many people would be interested in reading if we could not find part of ourselves in not only the characters, but things that have happened to us as well as those in the stories.  There must be a connection between reader and text.


Greta Carroll said:

You’re exactly right, James. Part of the reason literature is worth study is this mutability. Texts can change and grow with us and show us things that we didn’t pick up on the first time around. A book would never be deemed a classic if every time someone read it they got the exact same thing from it. And it is interesting to consider the different reactions that different people have to a piece of literature, after all what makes one person hate a book and another love it?

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