The Author Question


#1

Hello, fellow readers and ChoiceGame lovers.

I decided to post something after a month-ish of inativity due to a busy schedule. And so, I also decided to throw this discussion that I’ve been having with myself for a few months in the forum, because I think good arguments can come of it.

So here’s the thing: where do you stand on the “author authority” argument? A writer can easily impose their view of the work they produce, but is it inherently better or more meaningful or more valid than an interpretation done by the readers? But what if the readers directly contradict the author, like, say, arguing that Lolita is a straight romance played straight?

It’s easy to say that what the author says is more important, since they’re the ones creating the books. But if I think the readers can give good spins to old narratives and find new things to enjoy in them, which keeps them fresh and relevant. Like Freud’s reading of Shakespeare.


#2

My favorite novel about this very question is Azure Bonds, by Kate Novak & Jeff Grubb. I side with its ultimate conclusion that every work of art can be improved in some way, and it’s probably inevitable no matter what the creator wants. Of course whether something is an improvement is subject to audience interpretation.


#3

Art has never been and will never be created for the enjoyment of only artists

The author’s perspective on his own work may add to the experience of the audience but in the end, it all comes down to how you would reasonably feel about a certain work.

Emphasis on the reasonable part because although the enjoyment of art is very subjective, some degree of objectivity still needs to exist.


#4

In general, I treat authorial intent the same way I treat anyone’s views on a piece of art. I’m interested in what the work meant to them, I’m not interested in them telling me what the work meant.

If that makes a sense.


#5

Exactly.

I find Ray Bradbury’s intended meaning of Fahrenheit 451 to be illuminating for both his character and values, as well as a reflection of the public consciousness at the time of writing.

But goodness gracious, I find it rather silly that he so vehemently rejected the theme of censorship in favor of holding it up as a warning of the effects of technology potentially creating an illiterate society.

Authorial intent is very important, and should not be outright dismissed–if anything it can help aid us in understanding subtler themes within a work–but it also should not and cannot be the end all, be all of understanding the meaning.

There must be a back and forth between author and audience, and the meaning of a book often lies somewhere between them.


#6

An author can go ahead and remind us what their intention was all they want as long as they aren’t smacking all other interpretations.

An author that just follows theory videos instead of having a real idea what they were doing is also pretty frustrating.