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Deeper meaning or Nonsense?
@stella Something important that I noticed you said was that the author always has a reason for writing or doing something. I agree with this statement! But I don't think that necessarily means that authors don't intentionally publish nonsense. I think Alice in Wonderland is a great example of this. If you are anything like me, while reading Alice you thought it was complete nonsense throughout the entire book. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason to anything happening throughout the storyline. Some sources online claim that the book was written so that Carroll could entertain some little girls that belonged to a family with whom he was friends. I don't know if this is true or if there actually was deeper hidden meanings in the text (and it's honestly not something I'm all that concerned about), but if that is the case, I think he knew it was complete nonsense and would be perceived that way. Even so, he still had a reason for writing the stories. He had a purpose. The fact that it is nonsense- or at least seen by many as being so- doesn't take away from the piece. The purpose is still there, nonsense or not. He still accomplished his goal of entertaining the girls (if that was really his motivation for writing it). And I think Carroll had to have known that many would read it and think it nonsense, even if there are deeper meanings within the piece. So even though it may be more complex than it seems, he most likely would have known that it was nonsense, at least at surface level.
@siennamuscat742 I feel like your use of the absolute "always" is a little bit dangerous here. I 100% agree with you that there is always a purpose for the author to write something. But I don't quite agree that there is always a meaning, especially a deeper meaning than what the reader gains from the piece. The most common example of this is when the purpose is to entertain. In this case, sometimes nonsense is the best way to achieve this purpose. Take Monty Python and the Holy Grail for example. That movie it complete nonsense. It's utterly absurd. And that's why it entertaining. Maybe there are some deeper meanings within the movie (I'd have to watch it again, it's been a while), but whether or not meanings can be taken away from the movie, its purpose was to entertain, and that's what it did. The writers definitely knew that they were creating nonsense (I mean c'mon, they had someone following King Arthur around the entire movie banging coconuts together as a replacement for a horse). I don't think the fact that The Holy Grail was nonsense makes it any less valuable. While I may not have learned much, if anything, from it, I was certainly entertained, so I consider their work a success because I think that is what they were intending to do: Create something for the viewers to enjoy and be entertained by.
@octavia I actually disagree with you on the answer to this question. I think that the reader's interpretation and understanding is the most important. I think the point of literature is for the reader to take away a new idea that they didn't have before. The author's job is to guide them and offer their own ideas but ultimately, the meaning given off is determined by the readers. Each reader brings with them their own ideas and experiences when they read, and each person may interpret the reading differently.
@madams43 - You raise a very interesting point here. From a practical perspective, as you said, I can't think of a single reason why an author would write nonsense just to do so. I feel like if it seems like nonsense, there is a reason why they author wrote it that way. Then, it is left up to reader to decide if they gain meaning and something valuable from the writing, or take the easy way out and call it nonsense. Could calling a piece nonsense be front put up by readers because they don't understand the meaning?
@mangoman Let's use Arnold's criterion for literature. Literature has a profound theme, is crafted well, and stands the "test of time". Anything that doesn't fit this isn't considered literature. By definition, not all pieces have a deeper meaning to it. I don't think I learned something profound about my humanity from reading the entire Harry Potter series nor from reading "A Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy". On the note of style, how do we define a style as "odd"? Is it because of the time period when it was written because you're right that Abbott's style of writing is more unusual in our eyes than contemporary literature. However, maybe it's used to hint at something larger. Again when reading "Flatland" I kept asking what's the larger picture (like why would he write about sexist polygons and the 4th dimension?). I don't think the writing style has to be "odd" in order for us to say there is a deeper meaning.
I think most writers do leave intentions and a deeper meaning behind in stuff they make but sometimes they don't and we end up overinterpreting because were used to doing it to other pieces.
@persephone I understand were you are coming from but classics are "classic" for a reason. They resonate with almost every one and the author's deeper meaning is clearly transmitted to the audience with little to no interference. And classics usually involve moral values to human civilization. And although you may not see any value in them, I say other wise the pieces that are classics contain moral values important to the reader. Morals have intrinsic value which may not be as much value as things with instrumental value but value nonetheless.
I often find it that when authors use difficult to understand styles, there is a deeper meaning than what I initially expected. For example in Flatland, I first thought that the story was no more than a fictional story for pure entertainment purposes because it kinda followed a plot. But as I dug deeper into it and began analyzing the different literary devices abbott was using, It finally hit me. The satire used in the novel was used to depict victorian society. Since satire from then is different from now I couldn't quite clearly understand why it was funny at first so that is why i believe that when authors use hard to understand styles they have deeper meanings.
Always! I believe that there is always a deeper meaning to any type of literature especially the ones that we have read so far. The more I think about it I haven't really gotten into a book like really into a book until maybe last year. Mostly because I would just read to read or because it was required. Now when I read I understand so much more because I have gained those skills. Recently I have gone back to books I have read in the past and see so much deeper meaning on what the author was trying to portray. It is probably the most interesting thing to me since I figured out my toaster had a bagel setting.
@xwing37 I believe that authors apply their opinion with their full intent. I believe they do this so you have an opinion to base yours's of off because with no foundation one can't go anywhere not even draw a conclusion based off what the author mentioned. The author sharing their opinion by mistake or by design on their story, makes it a more open piece to talk about. This is due to the fact that we will naturally have and opinion different to his and start of conversation and the goal of that conversation is to come to an agreement with the author.
I think a majority of authors don't want their work to be shallow and meaningless, I think everyone writes with intent. I also think that a lot of authors tend to lose their initial thought along the way, and this can lead to their story being without a theme, or with a painfully overused one, which can lead to their work being nonsense. Some literature is nonsense and other literature has a deeper meaning. I think what that depends on is how the author wrote said novel and how the reader interprets it.
@berryberry I understand where you are coming from. I believe that all of us going into reading with our own interpretations way beyond the author's intent. The author might not have strong intent or meaning behind the book, but we think there is because that is what we are programmed to do. I find this concept very interesting and I totally agree with your thought.
@bunkymoo That's interesting that you bring up the point of us being programmed to find a strong meaning in a piece when there isn't really one. I think humans are naturally just curious and overthinkers, and when we see something so simple we tend to immediately think "That's it?" and dive for a deeper meaning or understanding to a piece.
@alechayosh07, I agree, up until last year I've just been reading novels just to read them. I never really thought about what the author was trying to tell me. But after AP Lang and a small part of AP Lit I've found myself constantly looking for the deeper meaning. I like this form of reading so I can actually read with a purpose and challenge myself. Before I would find myself not paying much attention while reading, and I don't think that's how a book is meant to be read.
Every author has a different reasoning for writing. And, they all have different approaches. Some of the first forms of literature were spoken stories, often used to transmit warning to children in an entertaining way. One of the first stories I can remember hearing is The Boy Who Cried Wolf, and it teaches us not to lie. At the same time, it's entertaining enough for us as kids to pay attention. I don't think nonsense and a deeper meaning are complete opposites. Can't the deeper meaning be nonsense? I don't see why not. There is writing that doesn't have a meaning deeper than surface level, that is true. But that doesn't mean it doesn't have any value. Harry Potter was mentioned earlier, and it it true there isn't much deep meaning in the books, but it does show great friendship. It may not explore humanity or the meaning for existence, but it stills offers a meaningful message.
In a piece that is challenging to read and mystic, I would hope there's a good reason for it. I wouldn't want Harry Potter to be written in Plato's style if all I was going to learn is friendship. Most authors are thoughtful in the use of their language to improve whatever message they want to send. In Invisible Man, everything is so thought out even when I first read it it feels less a mess. Generally I would say that most styles are purposeful and do have a deeper meaning.
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