Thursday, March 4, 2010

Wallace Stevens

(1879 –1955)

“Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” (1917)
“Study of Two Pears” (1938)

Authorial Intent vs. Reader Response
Often an author has a purpose in his story to tell a message or deliver some insight or a moral or to describe life. We too ass readers are trying to draw meaning from what we read (else why do we read), and since we have a different view on life, the meaning we draw may be different from what the author wanted to say. So who is right? Should we go with the author’s intent or with the reader’s response? I lend toward the intent of the author, but there is some play between these two, as we use wisdom and experience to mediate between the two. The two Stevens poems seemed to embody this idea. “Thirteen Ways…” seemed very open-ended allowing the reader to come to his or her own conclusions, while “…Two Pears” seemed to come to a definite point; lines 23-24 read:

The pears are not seen
as the observer wills.

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