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The Rules That Aren't Rules

"Carter employs not only materials from earlier texts but also her knowledge of our responses to them in order to double-cross us, to set us up for a certain kind of thinking so that she can play larger trick in the narrative."
page 35, How to Read Literature Like a Professor

I think it's important to know how all these techniques are being used, and this is a prime example of an author using intertextuality to accomplish a real goal. It's all well and good to understand that authors often reference other works, but if it doesn't really seem to accomplish much of anything in terms of the storytelling I don't think there's much of a point. No literature has real rules, and if it did, it would be pretty boring to read, in my opinion. Any work of art is interesting to me in the way that it consciously breaks the rules. That's why when Carter introduces a character as an Ophelia, but then turns her into a Hero, it makes the audience pay attention. Had she stayed consistent with the reader's expectations, it would have made for a static and uninteresting read. Going against expectations and breaking rules is what really involves a reader. There are no real rules, but you still have to have rules, because if you didn't have rules, you would never know when they were being broken, and you would never understand the significance of them. That was a very long run-on sentence, but I had to break the conventional rules of grammar to make you understand my point about breaking the rules. Well, maybe I didn't have to, but if I were a really good author I would have used that sentence to subvert your expectations and make you think. And that to me is what makes reading a good work of literature worthwhile. To see how the writer will use conventions and then turn them against you. All good writers should be punks; they should buck the system, but still use the system while bucking it. So, it's more like, destroying the system from the inside. Or something like that.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on February 5, 2009 11:51 PM.

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