Romantic Poems, Poets, and Narrators
Kent State University Press, 2000 - 203 páginas
Romantic Poems, Poets, and Narrators will be valuable to specialists not only in romantic period studies but in literary theory and poetics as well. Students of Blake, Coleridge, Wordsworth, and Keats will appreciate these refreshingly subtle, tactful, and convincing new readings of the major romantic poems. The book is a scholarly and engaging guide to the various and complex discourses--formalist, psychoanalytic, deconstructive, new historicist--that have provided the terms in which these poems have been and currently are received.
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Hans Robert Jauss (1921-1997), one of the main contributors to
Reception Theory, published an essay, “The Change in the Paradigm of Literary Scholarship” in
1969. In this essay, Jauss points out the rise of the new paradigm and emphasizes the importance
of interpretation by the reader, replacing the obsolete literary scholarship methodology which
involved the studies of accumulated facts.4 Jauss’s theory views literature “from the perspective
of the reader or consumer” and treats literature “as a dialectical process of production and
reception.”5 In his article “Literary History as a Challenge to Literary Theory” (1969), Jauss
states the following:
…the relationship of work to work must now be brought into this
interaction between work and mankind, and the historical coherence
of works among themselves must be seen in the interrelations of
production and reception. Put another way: literature and art only
obtain a history that has the character of a process when the
succession of works is mediated not only through the producing
subject but also through the consuming subject—through the
interaction of author and public.6
1 Robert C. Holub, Reception Theory: A Critical Introduction. (London and New York: Methuen, 1984), xii.
2 Ibid., xiii.
3 Ibid., 1.
4 Ibid., 1.
5 Ibid., 57.
6 Hans Robert Jauss, Toward an Aesthetic of Reception. Trans. Timothy Bahti. (Minneapolis: University of
Minnesota Press, 1982), 15.
So, how much “power” of interpretation does Reception Theory actually give to the
reader? Holub suggests that Reception Theory is a creative process that occurs in the act of
reading. He states, “The literary work is neither completely text nor completely the subjectivity
of the reader, but a combination or merger of the two.”7
Wolfgang Iser (1926- ), who is considered to be one of the most prominent figures in
Reception Theory, points out the importance of this literary process, as well. Iser takes a
phenomenological approach to Reception Theory and he “decontextualizes and dehistoricizes
text and reader.”8 Iser argues that the reader’s involvement coincides with meaning production
…the literary work cannot be completely identical with the text, or
with the realization of the text [by the reader], but in fact must lie
halfway between the two. The work is more than the text, for the
text only takes on life when it is realized, and furthermore the
realization is by no means independent of the individual disposition
of the reader…The convergence of text and reader brings the literary
work into existence, and this convergence can never be precisely
pinpointed, but must always remain virtual, as it is not to be identified
either with the reality of the text or with the individual disposition of
This suggest that Reception Theory defines literature as the process of how the reader and
the text interact with each other, and it was a revolutionary way of looking at the history of
literature and literary criticism. Reception Theory, however, confines the role of the reader
within this process, and the “power” of the reader does not function as the dominant in the act of
reading the text. Reception Theory introduces the necessity of the reader’s involvement in the
7 Holub, 84.
8 Raman Selden, Peter Widdowson, Peter Brooker, A Reader’s Guide to Contemporary Literary Theory. (Essex:
Prentice Hall, 1997), 55.
9 Wolfgang Iser, The Implied Reader: Patterns of Communication in Prose Fiction from Bunyan to Beckett.
(Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1974), xi.
10 Iser, 274-5.
history of literature, and this drastic and “revolutionary” development was rather natural
considering the influential writings on the theory of relativity by Albert Einstein (1879-1955)
and the concept of “paradigm shift” by Thomas S. Kuhn (1922-1996). Both Einstein and Kuhn
raise questions as to how one should approach the notion of “truth” and “fact”, thus
Introduction to the Songs of Experience The Infection of Time
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner Distinguishing the Certain from the Uncertain
The Prelude Still Something to Pursue
The Intimations Ode An Infinite Complexity
Lamia Attitude Is Every Thing