Literary Intention, Literary Interpretations, and Readers

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Broadview Press, Apr 17, 2009 - Literary Criticism - 458 pages
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This accessible, personal, and provocative study returns to the major subject in literary discussion before and during the relatively recent flourishing of literary theory, that of literary intention. Does the author’s personal intention or historical site determine a correct interpretation of a literary work?

Probing the entire range of issues connected with this many-faceted and knotty concept, this book engages with interpretation on both theoretical and practical levels. It argues that the hard questions about interpretation connected to issues of intention cannot be sidestepped or ignored. It does not argue for conservative concepts of literature itself, nor against the major historical engagements of critics in our time. But in addressing those who continue to read or teach literature, it does insist on a level of sophistication in issues of literary interpretation that cannot be assured by historical research and knowledge of the social and cultural connections to literary works. The overall aim of the work is to recall readers to the great complexity, pleasure, and interest of literary interpretation.


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About the author (2009)

John Maynard is Professor of English at New York University. He is the author of Browning’s Youth (Harvard University Press) and Victorian Discourses on Sexuality and Religion (Cambridge University Press), among other books, and he is co-editor of the Cambridge journal, Victorian Literature and Culture.

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