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Author Failure or Misinterpretation by the Reader?  

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Sienna Muscat
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October 23, 2020 3:47 pm  

Interpretation is a two-way street and involves effort from both sides. The author may appropriately convey their writing, but if the reader misinterprets it, the reader's opinion of whether the author's writing is good or bad is influenced. It comes down to perspective, for example, depending on the reader's perspective of the author's writing, it will influence their thinking about the author. 


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username27
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October 23, 2020 4:01 pm  

I think this is an interesting thing to bring up. In terms of Modernism, it is neither. The only the meaning that comes out of the work is somewhere directly in the work. The words, language, and structure of the piece determine the readers interpretation. The modernist interpretation will also not involve any of the reader's preconceive notions or feelings. 


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username27
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October 23, 2020 4:05 pm  

Without using the modernist perspective, I would have to agree with you @Siennamuscat742. I like how you put it as a two-way street. Writing and Reading is give and take. Both the reader and the writer must give and take. The writer must create the work and obviously base it off of something and create meaning. The reader must take in the piece, but then use their past experience to interpret the meaning unlike the modernist viewpoint. I am actually pretty unsure. I feel like the answer to the question kind of depends on which theory you agree with the most. Historicism, Modernism or the other theories we have yet to learn about this year?


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MSAR
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October 23, 2020 7:00 pm  

Misinterpretation by the reader is definitely the problem whether it is because the reader doesn't understand the references or the literary devices the author implements in the story. Now two factors affect the readers and leads them to do this. They're Age and cultural background. This is because the authors audience is going to be predominantely of his culture. So authors in the past did have a tough time having people understand their text, but nowadays diversity and have broadened the spectrum of what readers can and cannot understand.


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stella
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October 23, 2020 8:02 pm  

@msar I think your idea that modern readers are better able to interpret a writer's work is fascinating. I believe that not only are we more diverse now, but we can access a wider variety of information; if you don't understand a reference in a piece, your ability to look it up and, therefore, can better interpret the writer's purpose. 


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Carla Tortelli
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October 23, 2020 10:42 pm  

@xwing37 I agree with you! Any reader will unconsciously add in their own experiences or thoughts while reading a piece of literature. The author can't really be at fault in these situations, because as you said the author will not be there to read the book with them. Its hard to be un biased to a piece so in a way in does interfere with the "true" or authors meaning of the piece at hand. The author does hold some of that responsibility but its interpretation relies on the reader being able to see past their personal atmosphere. The author knows what they wanted to portray, most of the time, but individuals will skew that in a way that becomes more reliant on the emotions they feel reading that piece. Overall it is a bit more of the readers fault then the authors, in a sense.


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Nicole
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October 25, 2020 3:31 pm  

@aaparrot I 100% agree with the notion that it would be considered the failure of the machine if it malfunctioned. But the user of a machine can cause problems to arise with a machine as well. If while I'm driving my car, something suddenly falls off or stops working properly to no fault of my own, the car/car's creator is to blame. But if I mistreat my car and do everything bad for it the entire time I own it, then I am to blame if something goes wrong while I am driving. The reader isn't always to blame, sometimes an author just provides inadequate information to convey their meaning. But sometimes a reader will not use everything at their own disposal to figure out the meaning of a piece. That being said, I don't think every miscommunication is the fault of the reader. I think there is a mix of author and reader failures that lead to misinterpretations and miscommunications. This is why I only partially agree with Eliot's theory because I don't think the author should always bear all of the blame.


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Nicole
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October 25, 2020 3:59 pm  

@persephone This is a good point. But I do think that there can be failures in reading/writing. I think situations that can be considered failures are far more rare than just the reader and writer having different takeaways from a piece. I agree that the author can fail from being factually incorrect, but I think there are a few more instances where the author can fail. An author can write something with an intended meaning, and while they are writing it he or she may think the meaning is evident in the piece. But when someone reads it, there may not be any evidence of the intended meaning in the writing. I think we can sometimes see this when we write things for school. Sometimes we think we are answering a prompt or providing evidence for a certain claim, and then when we get feedback, we realize it's just not there. This should definitely be considered the failure of the author because inadequate evidence was provided to convey his or her meaning. But the reader can also fail, like you said, mainly I think only by not taking their reading seriously or being lazy in their reading. But I do think it's important that you bring up that miscommunications shouldn't always be considered a failure. In the example I provided about the author, the author would be at fault, and I would consider that a failure. But if the writing does contain adequate evidence that can be pointed to to convey a message, and the reader still gets a different meaning, as long as the reader was being serious in their interpretation, neither party failed. So I guess what I'm saying is that there isn't a black and white answer, and it's very subjective as to which party failed or if either failed.


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octavia
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October 27, 2020 5:05 pm  

@msar This point of us having a wider spectrum of knowledge available to us to help us interpret a piece is compelling to me. I think that this can be true to help us interpret a piece, but it also means our brains are working less to actually interpret what's going on. So, maybe we now can interpret better because of the utilization of our resources, but I think we tend to slack off and not try as hard to interpret it with our minds. 


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xwing37
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October 29, 2020 2:09 pm  

@alechayosh07, I think being able to read pieces without bias is something that we're just starting to get the hang of. Because up until last year I was told to read the pieces of literature how I want to and whatever I think is right as long as it's justified. But now I've learned that you can do that, but that's not the correct way. Most of the time you're going to end up interpreting the writing wrong. So now especially in this class I've done my best to read everything with the minimum amount of bias possible. And I think I'm benefitting a lot from it.


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bunkymoo
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October 30, 2020 11:59 pm  

@xwing37 I have tried to read without bias as well. When we had conversations about our own interpretations in the text, I realized it can ruin the intent and purpose the author is trying to portray to you. I think it is benefiting me in actually understanding the text, but it is weird changing from two different standpoints. Before I would just read to read, and now I'm reading with intent, which is refreshing in a way. 


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xwing37
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November 2, 2020 5:27 pm  

@bunkymoo, it's refreshing and a bit confusing I think. It's good to know that I'm reading things the correct way now. But it's also hard to completely change the way I've read for the past 10 years of my life. I think it's worth the time and effort to change the way you read things so you can get a better understanding of the literature that you're reading.


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DeepThought
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November 3, 2020 3:15 pm  

@bunkymoo I disagree. I think that yes, if I bring a lot of my own opinions into a piece of writing then I can get an interpretation that differs from the author's intended meaning, however in my mind a large part of interpretation is that each reader will view a piece of writing differently, which creates differing opinions on writing which then creates discussion on the writing. For example, if people read a book like a robot, then any meaning that someone might get from personally relating to one character over another is lost. If one person is better able to relate to and therefore understand a character better than a different person, then there is a bit of extra meaning gained that might have otherwise been lost had the reader tried to remove their own experiences from a book. While I definitely don't think that I should only look at a book through the lens of my own experiences, I think that my experiences can help me interpret a book, and those experiences will lead me to a different interpretation that other readers, which can help to facilitate discussion in comparing the different interpretations of a book.


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looneylibra
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November 5, 2020 6:23 pm  

While meaning is not dependent entirely on the author, if the author was successful in putting meaning into their work without directly pointing it out making the reader have to discover that meaning, then it would be no question. If the author were to do that perfectly there would be no debate on whose meaning is more important or who is supposed to curate the meaning, it would just that the author implicated a meaning that the reader must discover. The confusing part is that is the case very infrequently, and most of the time a reader hits a dead end and must interpret their own meaning to a piece of literature since there was none for them to find. That being said both reader and author interpretations of meaning can be very useful because when put together they could unravel even deeper understanding into a piece, or on the contrary, more confusion. There is no good or definite answer to who's interpretation is better, most of the time we just see based on what the piece is about. 


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octavia
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November 5, 2020 6:28 pm  

@bunkymoo I think its pretty refreshing as well, almost as if you're not stuck in your head the whole time. It gives you a new perspective on everything, which can be confusing if you compare both perspectives too much. I also think that considering other perspectives can really change up one's interpretation of the meaning of a piece. 


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