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Home :: Archive :: 2007 :: September ::
Authorial Intention
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0640  Wednesday, 26 September 2007

[1]	From: 		John Drakakis <
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	Date: 		Monday, 24 Sep 2007 15:17:55 +0100
	Subj: 		RE: SHK 18.0635 Authorial Intention

[2]	From: 		Alan Horn <
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	Date: 		Monday, 24 Sep 2007 19:53:42 -0400
	Subj: 		Re: SHK 18.0635 Authorial Intention

[3]	From: 		Alan Horn <
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	Date: 		Wednesday, 26 Sep 2007 01:38:11 -0400
	Subj: 		Re: SHK 18.0635 Authorial Intention


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		John Drakakis <
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Date: 		Monday, 24 Sep 2007 15:17:55 +0100
Subject: 18.0635 Authorial Intention
Comment: 	RE: SHK 18.0635 Authorial Intention

Cary di Pietro makes the point eloquently: this is exactly the terrain 
that 'Presentism' aims to explore.  Whether we talk about 'history', 
'historicisms', interpretation, 'intention', or even, interestingly 
enough 'desire', we bump into ourselves in the present....which is what 
Terence Hawkes has been saying all along!

Cheers
John Drakakis

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Alan Horn <
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Date: 		Monday, 24 Sep 2007 19:53:42 -0400
Subject: 18.0635 Authorial Intention
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0635 Authorial Intention

Cary DiPietro writes, "I'm not familiar with Genette, but your 
paraphrase here, Alan, is clearly incorrect."

Cary, if you are having trouble making sense of the passage I cited, you 
could take a look at it in context. I provided a precise reference. I'm 
sure you would have no difficulty finding the work in question (which, 
together with Genette's earlier Narrative Discourse, is seminal in the 
field) in any academic library or bookstore.

Alan Horn

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Alan Horn <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 26 Sep 2007 01:38:11 -0400
Subject: 18.0635 Authorial Intention
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0635 Authorial Intention

Cary DiPietro writes, "At no point does Genette here suggest that the IA 
is ever taken to mean the narrator (because obviously ludicrous, and I 
challenge you to find a narrative theorist who makes that claim) or the 
author (because that's the point)."

The argument is that the term "implied author" was introduced (by Wayne 
Booth) to distinguish the narrator from the author, who may not hold the 
same views. The traditional example is "A Modest Proposal," where 
Swift's views are conveyed implicitly through a text that purports to 
say something quite different.

This idea has become commonplace, as Cary DiPietro points out. So why 
not drop the "implied," which was brought in to insist on a distinction 
that no longer needs the emphasis, and speak of the narrator and the 
author tout court? Who or what is this supposed third agent that is 
identical to neither?

The implied author is defined as the idea of the author as conveyed to 
the reader. If this idea is accurate, the term is unnecessary: the 
implied author is the real author (e.g., Swift is a proponent of social 
reform). So it is meaningful to speak of an implied author that is NOT 
identical to the author only if the idea of the author conveyed to the 
reader is inaccurate.

This may be the reader's fault, as when he or she naively takes the 
narrator to accurately represent the author or his views (thinking, 
e.g., that Swift is a proponent of cannibalism). Or it may be the 
author's fault, through incompetence or unconscious revelation or 
deliberate deception (as in the case of a forgery). The first and last 
are not worth talking about on the level of theory, and the middle one 
is in fact identical with the real author at the deepest (unconscious) 
level. So it still must be the distinction between the narrator and the 
author we are talking about.

Genette concludes that when theorists posit an implied author different 
from the actual author, they can only be either distinguishing the 
author from the narrator or vice versa (except in certain trivial 
cases). Cary DiPietro notes that no theorist who finds the term useful 
would ever claim that the implied author is identical to either the 
narrator or the author. Precisely. What Genette is saying is that this 
superfluous term arises in a confused way from "two distinctions" 
(author/narrator and narrator/author) "that remain blind to each 
other"-creating the illusion of a third agent lurking somewhere in 
between. Empirically and logically there are only two narrative agents: 
the narrator who is fictively telling the story and the author who is 
actually telling it.

Alan Horn

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