The role of the reader and the implicit dimension

Craig, Jill F (1979) The role of the reader and the implicit dimension. MLitt(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

This thesis explores some of the effects in literature which are not obviously the content of a work, effects which influence the aesthetic response of the reader, unstated effects. It is also concerned with the particular relationship which develops between a writer and a reader. The unstated effects will be referred to as the implicit dimension in literature. The reason for my interest in this dimension derives from a belief that the text as language alone, cannot account for the aesthetic experience. A writer can never totally efface himself since his values, biases and interests are necessarily revealed in what he writes and the techniques he uses. Neither this vision nor the "script" for the role of the reader form an explicit part of a literary work yet both determine the aesthetic experience of the reader. This thesis offers a method for exploring the implicit dimension in literature through the concepts of continuity and discontinuity. By continuity I refer to connections apparent between different literary forms, between the actual and the fictional world, between the actual and the fictional world, between various parts of a literary work, and between the often dissimilar elements of a. metaphor. I also discuss the ways in which the reader can join his thoughts to the writer's both through sympathy and through identifying an appropriate way of reading. By discontinuity I will often be referring simply to the obverse of continuity. I examine what effect a gap between forms, parts, or worlds has on the reader; also how the disjunction between narrator and implied author or between two levels of meaning, acts as a controlling factor on the meanings constructed by the reader. In short I explore the effects of spaces, ambivalences, discords, upon the reader. The imagination of the reader responds naturally in terms of continuities and discontinuities, seeking patterns and shapes, perceiving relationships, alerted and stimulated through what appears to be unfamiliar, unexpected and discordant. For art to communicate to us we must locate the appropriate response which means applying a suitable paradigm. The form itself holds clues to this paradigm and thus to its own deep structure. I examine the effects of various patterns on the imagination of the reader; repetitions, pauses, symmetries. The reader is also controlled by other factors such as an unusual point of view or the peculiarities of distance in an ironic work. These techniques as well as a whole range of narrative forms can be used by the writer to delineate in different ways the relationship between writer and reader. The implicit operates just as strongly in drama as it does in the novel, the imagination of the spectator penetrates through actor to character, through surface to deep structure. But in Pinter's Old Times we encounter a logically impenetrable surface structure and therefore a shared world cannot develop between writer and spectator. In Endgame, on the other hand, Beckett's world can be penetrated at the points of discontinuity (the perilous zones), between the two meanings of his dialogue, and his implicit vision is revealed. Techniques causing discontinuities in art can lead to more profound levels of continuity between the art form and the actual world and can help to widen and deepen our understanding of our own lives. Irony, for instance leads from discontinuous perspectives to a new and different viewpoint, embracing both originals. The techniques used by the writer and the imaginative relationship which the reader forms with the writer, are the means by which art is able to strip the veil of familiarity from the world and to recover the sensation of life.

Item Type: Thesis (MLitt(R))
Qualification Level: Masters
Additional Information: Adviser: J AM Rillie
Keywords: British & Irish literature
Date of Award: 1979
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:1979-72399
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 24 May 2019 15:12
Last Modified: 24 May 2019 15:12
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/72399

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