The Author as the Centre?

"The name of the author remains at the contours of texts-separating one from the other,
defining their form, and characterizing their mode of existence."

-Michel Focault

"La commedia÷÷.e finita! Haaaaaaa÷÷!!!"

The orchestra crescendos. I look up at the stage to see Silvio being stabbed by Canio÷their painted make-up failing to hide the agony, the despair. Tonio, laughing hideously, takes a bow, and the show comes to an end.

The applause dies down.

How fitting, I thought÷that the opera begins with a prologue spoken by Tonio÷and ends with the pronouncement: žThe comedy is ended!Ó

Has the narration ended with Tonio? Yet, was Tonio really the narrator for the opera? Throughout the opera, his identity changes. He proclaims himself as žI am the PrologueÓ right at the beginning, as an agent of the author. In the middle of the opera, he gets into his role as the jealous Tonio, his affections scorned by Nedda. When the play within the play begins, he is Taddeo.

But, who is he finally, when he pronounces, :ÓThe comedy is ended!Ó? If Tonio was indeed sent as an agent of the author, as he so proclaims in the prologue, where was the author? What right, I thought, has he got to say the comedy is ended, when he is nothing but an agent of the author?

Reading the words to the prologue, one would imagine that the author is at the center of a grand design, an architect for the narrative. But at the end of it all, Tonio teases us. He pokes fun at the idea that we have been hanging on to a sequential narration of events inspired by its creator, the author, the very notion of an author who is writing out of a center of a self to communicate with us. His multiple identity changes show that self is in fact in a state of flux anyway. He is after all, but an agent for the author. Already, this very idea of self is questioned, so is this idea of the author at the center of the narrative even valid in the first place? Tonio's three identities which he puts on and discards at will, are nothing more than a product of the narrative. In this opera, Tonio, Taddeo, the Prologue, or whatever we might call him, exist simply because of the requirement of the narrative. But in my view, he challenges the author as the sole master, and hence owner of the narrative, when he pronounces: The comedy is ended! WhoŪs voice is it now? Tonio? The Prologue? Taddeo? Or the author? Where is the author even? Does it even matter? Or has the end of the narrative lead to the death of the authorŪs voice?

Will the author please step out?

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