During a long period of time the meaning of the word “author” has changed considerably, and nowadays, it becomes a bit hard to distinguish what makes a good and worthwhile author, why so many critics still debate concerning the idea of authorship, and where is the line that distinguishes whether an author is dead or alive.
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The world changes day by day, people’s preferences are under certain change as well, and, as a result, all the concepts, developed by people in this constantly changing world, do not remain the same. Donald E. Pease, the PhD from the University, makes a wonderful attempt to analyze what the peculiarities of a good author are, what makes an author alive or dead, and why it is so hard to define author’ purpose, taking into account that this term may apply to several different activities at one and the same time.
Donald E. Pease’s Author is a wonderful essay, where he argues about the ideas of authorship and the author’s duties during different centuries, and also criticizes and evaluates the ideas by Barthes and Foucault.
I agree that the evaluation of the term “author” and the definition of “authority” may raise lots of questions: death of the authors happens when they disappear from culture, this is why the authors are not the only major constituents in texts and culture, and the readers and their comprehension of the texts become another crucial point in the discussions concerning the matter of authorship.
In his essay, Donald E. Pease pays much attention to the work by Barthes and his ideas as for the author’s death and its importance to the text. Of course, author’s death is not a concrete event; when the author’s life is ended, however, it underlines one point concerning the absence of author’s influence on the text and this text’s interpretation by the reader. Barthes mentions that “the author is dead, the text he thereby produces is not without an author” (Pease, 112).
According to such kind of interpretation, the Barthes supports the author’s separation from the text in the way that such separation promotes critique free from the author’s point of view. On the one hand, without an author, the reader does not even get a chance to evaluate some piece of writing; however, on the other hand, without the reader, the work, created by the author, does not make sense without proper reader’s evaluation.
“A discursive game always arriving at the limits of its own rule, without any author other than the reader…, who is defined as an effect of the writing game he activates” (Pease, 112). Each line in the text is a kind of reflection that has to be evaluated, and the author’s death is the only condition under which the work may be considered as worthwhile.
So, the work by Bathes, Donald E. Pease chose for analysis, serves as a proper proof that author’s death in any piece of writing, differentiation of cultural and social issue, and reader’s participation are integral parts, which promote the creation of a masterpiece.
However, one year later, another significant piece of work appeared and offered one more standpoint where the role and the interpretation of the term “author” are presented. Donald E. Pease analyzes the work by Michel Foucault called What Is an Author.
This work introduces the evaluation of the “cultural function of the author” (Pease, 113). Within one year only, the idea as for the role of the author in text’s interpretation has been changed considerably: another, more powerful meaning appears and impresses everyone with its content and certain concentration on author’s role.
“The author is finally neither an individual existing apart from a discursive practice, nor a subject acting within any specific practice, but what might be called a ‘subjecting’ function” (Pease, 113). According to this writer, the author’s function in the text is not the most significant and not the only one, however, it has a certain impact and may serve as a kind of anchor in order to start interpreting the text.
In order to prove that Bathes’ ideas are not quite correct, Foucault offers proof by contradictions and evaluates what could happen if the role of authors in a culture turned out to be insignificant and they actually disappeared from texts.
According to Foucault, even the author’s name is considered to be significant just because it is supported by the discourses in references to rights, obligations, and duties (Pease, 113). This is why if the author was not identified, the huge part of evaluation would be lost, and the interpretation, made by the reader, would not incomplete.
To my mind, Pease decision to compare two different ideas as for the author’s role in the text’s interpretation and possible death of the author is great indeed. This analysis helps to find out that the author still plays a significant function in culture. Baths offer quite a radical approach to the decision of the problem as for the author’s complete disappearance in the text’s interpretation. Foucault’s fundamental idea that the author cannot be disregarded deserves attention as well.
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This is why it is not enough to make a thorough description of these two approaches, and Pease evaluates their ideas and promotes the reader with a chance to interpret the content independently. Donald Pease demonstrates a good example of how it is possible to be a dead author while interpreting the text, and, at the same time, become a crucial part of the piece of writing that unites two different ideas.
In general, the role of the author in text and its interpretation by the reader takes a very important place in culture and literature in particular. The concept of an author’s death should be regarded as a pure literal ethical notion that cannot be determined word for word. To comprehend the role of the author, it is first of all necessary to realize whether the author is dead or alive in the text. Author’s presence allows identifying the status of the work and its connection to the other spheres of life.
The reader should get a chance to evaluate the content of the text, taking into consideration the surroundings, but still, be independent and use their own ideas and potential. And even if, according to Bathes, the author should be dead, his/her role in the text remains considerable, according to Foucault.
And Donald E. Pease demonstrates the best qualities of a professional writer, who cares about reader’s participation in the text, about reader’s abilities to find out new information, and, finally, about the neutral position that promotes reader’s growth and self-improvement.
Pease, Donald, E. “Author.” Critical Terms for Literary Study by Lentricchia, Frank & McLaughlin, Thomas. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1995.