From Lodge, David (ED). ‘Death of the Author’. Modern Criticism and Theory. London: Longman 1988.

              In S/Z, Barthes makes a distinction between the ‘readerly’ classic text, which make its readers passive consumers and the writerly classic text, which invites its readers to an active participation in the production of meanings that are infinite and inexhaustible. The image of literature to be found in ordinary culture is tyrannically centered on the author. Criticism on a work is to criticize the author himself. The explanation of a work is always sought in the man or woman who produced it.

              The sway of the Author remains powerful. Certain writers have long since attempted to loosen it. In France, Mallarme was the first person to see the full extent the necessity to substitute language itself for the person who until then had been supposed to be its owner. For him, it is the language that speaks not the author. Mallarme’s entire poetics consists in suppressing the author in interest of writing.

              Once the Author is removed, the claim to decipher a text becomes quite futile. To give a text an Author is to impose a limit on the text, to furnish it with a signified, to close the writing....when the Author has been found, the text is ‘explained’ - victory to the critic. In the multiplicity of writing, everything is disentangled, nothing deciphered; the structure can be followed, at every point and at every level, but there is nothing beneath.



  Before I read Barthes article on Death of the Author, it never occurred to me that readers were actually the producers of meaning and not the author. Its true that the author may have intended it to have a certain meaning but we as readers could always read the text and get a different interpretation other than the author’s. People who argue about what a particular text mean when an ambiguity arises will always attempt look for the writer of the text and thus the text is explained. So it is true that classical text are tyrannically focused on the author. With the advent of hypertext, it realizes Barthes’ writerly text, where readers are active readers and producers meaning. Who the author of a text is, is not important anymore. In a hypertext environment, a reader follows his or her own path of interest. The text is decentered and open-ended, like how Barthes envisioned modern text, everything is disentangled, nothing deciphered and the structure can be followed at every point and every level, but there is nothing beneath.



From Lodge, David (ED). Death of the Author. Modern Criticism and Theory. London: Longman 1988.

One of Iser’s most useful ideas is his discussion of the way in which gaps or blanks in literary texts stimulate the reader to construct meaning which would not otherwise come into existence. Once we are immersed in the flow of sentence-thought, we would think of a continuation, also in the form of a sentence. If by chance the following sentence does not connect with the sentence we have just thought of, there then comes a blockage in the stream of thought. It is only through inevitable omissions that a story will gain dynamism. Whenever the flow is interrupted, we are led off in unexpected directions, the opportunity arises for us to fill in the gaps left by the text ourselves. With ‘traditional’ texts, the process of making decisions of how a gap is to be filled was more or less conscious but modern texts frequently exploit it quite deliberately. They are often fragmentary that one’s attention is almost exclusively occupied with the search for connections between the fragments. This makes us aware of the nature of our own capacity for providing links.

Sterne’s conceive a literary text as an arena in which the author and reader participate in a game of imagination. Reading is only a pleasure when it is active and creative. In this process of creativity, the text may either not go far enough, or may go too far, so we may say that boredom and overstrain from the boundaries beyond which the reader will leave the field of play.



              I agree that in order to hold a reader’s interest, the author should stimulate the reader to supply what is not there encouraging creative participation. Texts are fragmentary in the electronic writing and readers have to search for connections by clicking on a desired hyperlink. The reader is thus making connections to fill in the gap of the fragmentary texts. By clicking on the desired hyperlinks, a story unfolds and the reader is constructing meaning with each text that comes onto the screen. A reader is capable of making links, and hypertext empowers the reader to exercise this capability, therefore, readers have greater freedom in hypertext compared to a book. The reader can add links or make comments after the text too. These two methods of active reading is not manipulated by the author as compared to choosing your own path to read. Therefore, whether the readers actually produce the meaning of a text or an author depends on the degree of manipulation by the author on the text.

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