Reading as an Author

By February 24, 2016 BlogPost One Comment

While this reading appealed to my big, nerdy, fan heart, I have few bones to pick with it. First: no self-respecting person identifies a group of fans as “fen”. It just DOES NOT happen. Also, why was Star Trek given head billing over Star Wars? That’s a crime against nerd-dom, in my humble opinion. Finally, I feel a bit frustrated with this quote on page 53:“Every reading modifies its object…. The reader takes neither the position of the author nor an author’s position. He invents in the text something different from what they intended. He detaches them from their (lost or accessory) origin. He combines their fragments and creates something unknown.”

I understand that readers may not always take the position of an author. I can read Orson Scott Card without becoming a jerk, and plenty of people have read Mein Kampf without turning into deranged, genocidal lunatics. You don’t have to identify perfectly with an author to read the text they’ve created. However, I disagree with the idea that the reader doesn’t take “an author’s position.” This Autumn I worked on my thesis project, which was writing a novella. I spent hours and hour on it. And now, when I read, I often think of things through an authorial mindset: “I know that I spent a lot of time making specific decisions when writing my novella… I bet that the use of this (color, phrase, motif, word) means something.” Reading with my experience as an author has made me more aware of the text, and has made me especially aware of what the author might have intended.

One Comment

  • Michelle C says:

    I totally agree with you! I took a class once where the teacher insisted that the author’s perspective when writing the piece was an unnecessary consideration. I almost lost my mind. I mean, sure, every reader brings something different to a piece that they are reading, but how is it possible to completely divorce intention from the product? In addition, if there wasn’t something of substance in a work before you began to engage with it, why pick it up in the first place. This is a school of thought that really grinds my gears… :)

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