Author And Reader As Characters (Part 1)

Author And Reader As Characters (Part 1)


The frontiers between reality and fiction are problematized and instead significant uncertainties appear that can be interpreted to varying degrees when the introduction of author and reader in the fictitious universe opens a fissure in the world of the text, that is, the referential universe of the work.
Estrella distante (1993) , by Roberto Bolaño, begins with a note from the author in which he clarifies for the reader the circumstances of production of the novel. The note ends with this statement: “My function was reduced to preparing drinks, consulting some books, and discussing, with him and Pierre Menard’s ghost each day more alive, the validity of many repeated paragraphs” (11). The one mentioned in this note is the recipient of the work, from whose disagreement with another novel by Bolaño arises the writing of Estrella distante. This addressee (narrator, insofar as he is mentioned) has direct references in that previous novel. The note signed by Bolaño, however, is addressed to real readers. On the other hand, the allusion to Pierre Menard is an intertextual indication, since it is an allusion to the story by Jorge Luis Borges, “Pierre Menard, author of Don Quixote”. These elements introduce metafictional problems for the interpretation of the status of author and reader insofar as they appear immersed in the narrative universe, and this metafictional condition marks the appreciation of the totality of the work.
Transgressions of this type demonstrate the nature that has conventionally been attributed to the author and reader, insofar as they are located in perfectly delimited areas: reality for authors and readers, and fiction for the characters. In the same way, these transgressions demonstrate problems to which the Reception Theory has been applied since the sixties, contemplating the work as a cooperative process. The activity of the author and the reader are thus conditioned by reciprocity in the task of constructing the meaning of the text. The text, on the other hand, is the scenario of this activity, whose most characteristic aspect is that of propitiating opportunities for participation.
This change of perspective in analytical considerations leads to the unfolding of the work as a conglomerate of uncertainties, an unfinished product that is aesthetically and ideologically realized in reading. In fact, concepts mentioned above as implicated reader and virtual reader, among others, are, for Dietrich Rall, in his book, In Search of The Text. Theory of Literary Reception (1987: 5), answers that “have given other current semiotic currents, with comparable and complementary approaches (…) that try to capture the characteristics of that instance foreseen in the texts and necessary to give them life”.

(To be continued…)


  • Rall, D. (Compiler). (1987). In Search of Text. Theory of Literary Reception. (Translation: Sandra Franco). México D. F. Universidad Autónoma de México.
  • Bolaño, R. (1993/1996). Estrella distante. Barcelona. Anagrama.

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