Who Says This? The Authority of the Author, the Discourse, and the Reader

Who Says This? The Authority of the Author, the Discourse, and the Reader

Who Says This? The Authority of the Author, the Discourse, and the Reader

Who Says This? The Authority of the Author, the Discourse, and the Reader

Synopsis

"Who or what gives the text its authority?" Everman offers three main sources of authority: the author, the discourse, and the reader.

His first section examines the authority of the author by studying the works of contemporary American writers. An essay on "docufiction" focuses on the paradox of using the techniques of fiction to discover reality. The probability of writers revealing truths about themselves is exemplified by Raymond Federman's quasi-autobiographical novels.

The second part discusses the authority of discourse, challenging writers with the possibility that literary form, not the author, is the major force in creating works. The final section explores the authority of the reader.

Italo Calvino's If on a winter's night a traveler makes the reader the main character of the novel and implicates him in its creation.

Excerpt

This is a collection of essays written for a variety of occasions or for no particular occasion at all. It is not a coherent, book-length argument on the issue of literary authority but an attempt to approach that issue from a number of different perspectives. The collection provides no single absolute answer because there is no single absolute question.

For every statement, written or spoken, it makes sense to ask: Who says this? The answer seems simple enough. The speaker is the source of what he says. For the written text, the one who says/writes this is the one whose name appears on the title page, the author. Like the speaker, the author is the source of his or her words.

In this sense, however, to be the source of language is not to be the creator of language -- the language with its vocabulary, its rules of grammar and syntax, always preexists every particular speaker or writer. Rather, it is to be a locus, a place from which these particular words come, a specific . . .

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