On authorship - Michel Foucault and Roland Barthes

The reader's perceptions



"... once the explanation is fixed in a work, it immediately becomes an ambiguous product of the real, to which it is linked by perspective..." (Barthes, 187)

What is it that the reader takes away from the text? Is it the exact ideas and emotions of the author?

No, it is the associative memories and perspectives of the reader which operate to give the reading experience. Our understanding of the text is dependant on our own experiences, which cannot be controlled by the author.

As the diary extract says, it is only when one has been in love that one can learn to recognize it. Similarly, only those who recognize the signs the author includes in the text will find meaning when they see them, though the accuracy between the reader's perception and the author's original intentions may differ due to the ambiguity of the text.


Diary extract