By Charles Altieri

ISBN-10: 0870233270

ISBN-13: 9780870233272

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Extra info for Act & quality: a theory of literary meaning and humanistic understanding

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Writers address imagined, eternal audiences as well as real, historical ones, and readers tend to become more dissatisfied with their reading skills the better they learn to glimpse what great texts elicit. Similarly, theorists are usually concerned with focussing on educating as well as describing. The best analogy I know is moral philosophy, where pure empirical description of what people in fact do, without attention to how they might idealize or orient behavior, seems to miss the point of the discipline.

Page 6 formed from an original object into a produced and producing structure whose laws are dynamic not static, whose materiality is textual not genetic, and whose effect is to multiply meaning not to fix it. . Writing is the production of meaning, never its achievement. The distinction stated between the confession stated in the mode of revealed truth and the confession stated in the mode of excuse is that the evidence for the former is referential (the ribbon), whereas the evidence for the latter can only be verbal.

I hope, of course, for more. My self-justification, which I almost believe, is that if my theoretical model holds up we will have a philosophically defensible perspective which frees us from narrow theories and returns us to the varied and dense concrete life of literary texts. Then, while the necessary means remains tedious abstraction, I can hold out for my reader the same promise of an end which got me through this book. Page 21 ONE Page 22 It is so difficult to find the beginning. Or better: it is difficult to begin at the beginning, and not try to go further back.

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Act & quality: a theory of literary meaning and humanistic understanding by Charles Altieri


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