Interpretation, Deconstruction, and Ideology: An Introduction to Some Current Issues in Literary Theory

By Christopher Butler | Go to book overview

5.4 Norms for Interpretation

It is not simply disagreements among critics, but also the variations in the nature of the text, which deprive interpretation of many of the traditional assumptions by which it has claimed certainty. The diverse historical purposes of the text, from the mimetically transparent to the deliberately self-contradictory, make it difficult for the interpreter to claim that any critical language he may favour is given authority by virtue of its correspondence to the nature of nature, of literature, of literary convention, or even of language itself. The once confident relationship between critical language and its object has to be given up. But this confusion of literary and critical purposes tells us less about the ultimate nature of literature than about the varying philosophical assumptions with which we may approach the institution of literature and our talk about it.

One group of critics assumes or hopes that readers may come to agree about some relatively determinable meanings for texts, and their relationship to a stable world or world-like context. They have learnt enough from the Saussurean approach to linguistics to recognize that the ordering of nature in language may have been different, that a child for example may have learnt different distinctions between 'swan', 'duck', and 'goose' (or between epic elegy and ode at a later stage) had he belonged to a different community, i.e. that we impose orderings on nature and literature rather than vice versa. The similarities and differences which we learn and which give us control over the use of such concepts might have been exploited differently. Hence what we learn when we attempt to master the language with which we deal with reality, or the same language within the text, is, as we have insisted all along, a series of likeness-relations which are suitable for our purposes. They are

the preferred arrangement of some community, rather than something insisted on by nature itself. Nature does not mind how we make clusters from the vast array of similarities and differences we are able to discern in it; all that is required of such clusters is that they constitute a tolerable basis for further usage. The clusters are conventions; the similarity relations which concepts stand for are conventions.

None the less... in learning such conventions knowledge of nature is increased. At the end of his walk the child can identify swans in his environment, and hence expect of particular identified swans whatever his

-83-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Interpretation, Deconstruction, and Ideology: An Introduction to Some Current Issues in Literary Theory
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction ix
  • 1 - Implication 1
  • 2.1 - Metaphor in the Text 8
  • 2.2 - Metaphor in the Language 19
  • 3.1 - Linguistics and Interpretation 26
  • 3.2 'Leda and the Swan'; Three Approaches 36
  • 4 - The Text and the External World 46
  • 5.1 - Deconstruction and Scepticism 60
  • 5.2 - Ambiguity and Self-Contradiction 66
  • 5.3 - Free Play 77
  • 5.4 - Norms for Interpretation 83
  • 6.1 - Ideology and Opposition 94
  • 6.2 - Hidden Ideology 103
  • 6.3 - Marxism and the Dominant Ideology 110
  • 6.4 - The Moral and the Political 121
  • Notes 137
  • Bibliography 154
  • Index 157
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
/ 180

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.