Author Topic: Unintended Interpretations of Classic Literature  (Read 5908 times)

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Offline Plastiq

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Re: Unintended Interpretations of Classic Literature
« Reply #30 on: June 12, 2012, 04:36:53 AM »
So deep.

Offline Henning

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Re: Unintended Interpretations of Classic Literature
« Reply #31 on: June 12, 2012, 01:31:29 PM »
I know men who have made tracing the real intent of a single author for a single 10 line poem their lives' work - and they will not succeed in their lifetimes.  Despite the author explicitly claiming his intent in the notes to that poem.

Wow. What's the poem?  8)
or were you speaking artfully?

Byron's "To Woman".  Though I got it wrong when I cited the line count from memory.  It's actually 22 (or 24 - he had an omitted couplet) lines.  A friend and old professor of mine has spent 37 years on that poem.

At least, that's the example I was explicitly thinking of.  I know a few scholars of the New New York School that have this issue with scholarship for hundreds of poems by Padgett, O'Hara, Berrigan, Brainard, etc.

It's actually pretty common in poetry scholarship - hence why I try not to encourage introductory students to take authorial intent too seriously.

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Offline Bunsen

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Re: Unintended Interpretations of Classic Literature
« Reply #32 on: June 13, 2012, 01:28:16 AM »
I'll let him know.

I doubt he'll agree for some reason.

Offline teethering

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Re: Unintended Interpretations of Classic Literature
« Reply #33 on: June 27, 2012, 03:14:13 PM »
Sometimes the Author is Dead.  Sometimes the stated intent adds dimension to the experience.  There is absolutely no "true" interpretation to a work of art, regardless of what the author says.  Treating the meaning that art conveys in terms of "right" and "wrong" misses the point of experiencing art.  The experience is subjective and what matters is how profound the experience is to you, not what the author intended or what the literature critics think.  Both can add to your experience, but they can also take away from it, it depends on the piece.

Which brings me to a different kind of point, the near universal hatred of high school English courses' deconstruction of various pieces of literature and their meaning.  I understand the hatred and it's well deserved.  I think by teaching kids that this is "the" interpretation it takes away from enjoyment.  But on the other hand I think providing people with the tools to get more out of literature requires examples to work on and being able to ask the right questions about art and think about it beyond the superficial impression adds dimension to the experience.