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February 4, 2007

What are your intentions?

Keesey, Ch 1 (Introduction) -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

"Not only are writers notoriously inclined to be reticent, evasive, or even deceptive when discussing the "meaning" of their works, but they are seldom in a position to know what they may have unconsciously intended, and in any case they must always talk about what they may have meant at some point in the past- last week, last year, three decades ago" (10).

So basically what this meant is that the author never knows why he wrote something besides the fact that they thought it would be an interesting read. I think that authors rarely pay attention to style and word choice. The authors do not know how a reader is going to perceive their writing rather than if they liked it or not. Later in the reading there was another line that I thought related well to the previous one.
"Every utterance is an attempt to express something- an idea, a feeling, a set of facts- and is successful to the extent that it effectively communicates what it set out to communicate. A poem, then, would be good if it achieved what its author intended" (14).

Every piece of literature that we criticize and try to find the intentions of the author will never be known because we don't really know what the author was thinking as well as the author probably didn't know what they were writing. They were influenced by their surrounding enviroment and current ideas in the world.

Posted by Denamarie at February 4, 2007 8:46 PM

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I'm sure some of the authors do put some thought into what their work means and how it may be interpreted...just not all. Personally, when I write, I certainly don't think, "Well, this could be seen as a symbol for arachnaphobia" or something. Then again, what I write isn't the sort of thought-provoking literature that the greats have written. Some had a purpose- a story to tell, and a meaning to get across. Just what that meaning is though...some of us may never know.

Posted by: Nessa at February 4, 2007 10:30 PM

Sometimes I do wonder if authors do think about what they are writing, at least not the complicated stuff anyway. I guess we won't ever know Shakespeare, or any of the other greats went back and looked over their writing and thought, "hmmmm, I'm trying to convey this so I guess I will write that so that there will be a metaphore," or whatever.

Posted by: Sue at February 6, 2007 4:23 PM

I don't know that I agree with you when you say that there is no thought put into what an author is writing. I think that maybe during that first draft of a story an author is trying to just get words, thoughts, feelings down on the page, but in later drafts it becomes part of what the story means. There is very specific intent in the editing of a book that an author is creating.

I do agree with Vanessa that there are amazing authors out there (like Faulkner) that put so much thought into the style of the novel that the actual storyline is lost somewhere inside of the story. On the other hand, I think that without the way the style was written the reader would not get some of the same feelings that occur when reading the story.

Posted by: Tiffany at February 7, 2007 11:10 PM

I'm with Tiffany on this one. I think authors put a lot of thought into what they are writing - particularly poets. Nothing in a poem can stand to be ignored, this we take as fact - is it really that different when it comes to prose?

Maybe on the first draft it is a matter of getting down the plot and characters, but that is why it is the first draft. I don't think you'll find any published authors who haven't revised, and not just to fix their spelling mistakes.

Posted by: Diana Geleskie at February 8, 2007 12:31 PM

I know Dr. Patterson would have some words with you over the notion that authors don't always select each and every word perfectly and under great scrutiny.

I don't think, entirely, that authors simply sit down and run with an idea when the write, but I agree in that they don't select every single word with the meticulous fine-tooth comb that some profess they do. Once you've gotten into the level of debating one individual word, you might have gone too far.

Poetry is a different story, but even those have exceptions.

Obviously, an author has to think about a style or some idea in which to write (Faulkner should be a good example of that), but I don't think there is the level of insanity some claim.

Posted by: Kevin at February 8, 2007 4:50 PM

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