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The Birth of the Reader of the Critic?

Satisfactory Essays
In their essays "The Intentional Fallacy" and "The Affective Fallacy," William Wimsatt and Monroe Beardsley argue the meaning of a work is self-contained; therefore the success of a work depends neither on the author's intention nor the reader's personal experiences. With the removal of the author and the reader they assert only the literary critic, operating meticulously within the work, can determine a works success and meaning. Roland Barthes, in his essay "Death of the Author," echoes many of the sentiments expressed by Wimsatt and Beardsley; however, he disagrees with the importance they place on the critic over the reader. Instead he claims the removal of the author in conjunction with the critic allows the reader to exercise a freedom and playfulness within the work. Wimsatt and Beardsley define the intentional fallacy as “a confusion between the poem and its origins” (1246) that occurs when an author's background or opinions on their work is used to find the meaning of the work. This, they claim, leads to nothing more than "biography and relativism” (1246) which fails to capture the works true meaning. They explain why "the design or intention of the author is neither available nor desirable" (1233) by stating that the design of a work does not give the author permission to establish its meaning. Further they state that the author, when asked to describe their intention for their work, may be insincere in their explanation which would skew the meaning of the work. Instead they assert that during the creation of a poem the author becomes detached from their work which is then transformed into an "object of public knowledge" (1234). This detachment between the author and work and the placing of the work within the hands of... ... middle of paper ... ...reader, “the space on which all the quotations that make up a writing are inscribed without any of them being lost” (1325), should discover the meaning of the text for themselves by playing with the work. Barthes agrees with many of the methods that Wimsatt and Beardsley advocate in their two essays, such as disregarding the author’s intention, identity and personal history as well as the reader’s personal history and emotional connection to the text. He also asserts the text’s importance above everything else. However, he revises the relationship between the author, critic and reader. While Wimsatt and Beardsley believe the critic is the most important person in the relationship and place the power of interpretation wholly within their hands, Barthes places the power in the reader who he believes should play with the text in order to find an appropriate meaning.
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