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March 27, 2007

EL312: Meaning Garden

... by helping new meanings to grow, meanings of which he [the author] had only a blurred view, because no one can project perfectly an infinitely into the future. Nevertheless, we should remember that it is the creative activity of the artist that has produced the text from which we can generate such a wealth of meanings. (399)

Wow, I never considered that... Thanks, Wright. I'm grateful that no one (or at least no one that's read her article) will be expecting me to "project" meaning into the future, meanings that I could have no possible way of knowing about before the stimuli existed.

What I find most interesting about what Wright has to say is that she allows for shortcomings like this in the text (which is something we've not seen much of in lit. crit. thus far!). Instead of expecting the author to foresee issues with meaning and anticipating the author's fall through reader response, genetic/historic theory, and intertextual missteps, Wright gives authors an "out" in saying that the meanings they may (or may NOT) have had in mind while producing the text are all valid and should be considered all due to the limitation of one human's mind to extend only within the realm of what was and what is--not into what could or will be.

Brilliant. I actually appreciate this. I'm grateful that we're hitting this sort of criticism this late in the semester since I don't think I would have fully appreciated it without the issues we've experienced with the variety of other criticisms we've worked through so far.

Her psychoanalytic representation of Benito Cereno was also exceptional. While I can't be sure that I understood everything 100%, I know that her criticism at least spurred me to consider elements and meanings I hadn't seen before. (Perhaps because we hadn't considered them with our limited knowledge of the text and limited knowledge of the criticisms we've learned already, we could not have been able to discover or plant new meaning within the text? Just a thought.)

Wright, ''The New Psychoanalysis and Literary Criticism'' -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

Posted by KarissaKilgore at March 27, 2007 2:45 PM


I chose the same quote, Karissa! (Well, I actually chose the entire paragraph, but that quote was included) While I can't say that the rest of her article was particularly helpful (plot summary much?), I loved her last few pages (including this quote) on intended meaning. As I have been saying since the beginning of this class to anyone who will listen (ie no one)- at times I find literary criticism to be a bit of a stretch. Not completely, but sometimes I think critics are finding really random obscure things in order to just find something, whether it is actually there or not. Wright seems to have a little of that doubt too, saying that we can make something new out of the text by cutting it up and exploring it, but the author may not have ever wanted it there at all.

Posted by: Nessa at March 29, 2007 9:53 AM

Wright also talks about how reading is no longer a leisure activity. Everyone is blind when reading a piece of literature because we can never see the stable meaning not even the author who wrote the story. The author is also blind to seeing where the stable meaning is within the story. Wright discussed how the authors may have never initially intended to put such meaning into a work, but it came out subconsciously whether they like it or not.

We must never forget the creative talent put into a work. I think deconstructing a creative piece of work is like stabbing the author in the back.

Posted by: Denamarie at March 29, 2007 12:58 PM

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