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February 19, 2007

Author-Reader Tension

Iser, ''Readers and the Concept of the Implied Reader'' -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

"Would the role offered by the text function properly if it were totally accepted? The sacrifice of the reader's own beliefs would mean the loss of the whole repertoire of historical norms and values, and this in turn would entail the loss of the tension which is a precondition for the processing and the comprehension that follows it" (146).

This idea reminds me of something we actually did a few weeks back in lit after reading Susan Glaspell's "Trifles." We were supposed to decide whether or not we felt that Mrs. Wright was justified in killing her husband. Even after debating, there was certainly no overall consensus. We discussed how much less effective the work would have been if we all had come to the same conclusions after reading it. In fact, what makes the play worth reading is the discussions we could have based on our disagreements afterwards (or at least I felt as such). This is exactly the point that Iser is trying to make in order to question the role of the implied reader as someone who has to agree to the terms of the author. But, while he disagrees that the reader must take on the same beliefs as the author, he agrees in the idea of tension between the implied reader and the author as a result of individual experiences. Interesting stuff.

Posted by LorinSchumacher at February 19, 2007 10:52 PM

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