Author And Reader As Characters (Part 2 / End)
The previous notes, valid also for the figure of the author and for the cataloguing of the text, take on special importance for the Reception Theory, in all its aspects, since they intend to investigate the functions of these elements of literary communication. Likewise, these integrating postures generate formulations that gather moments of confluence in the activity of different agents, promoting a plural approach to phenomena, a cooperative model of literary communication, as is appropriate in our case. In this sense, author and reader are not only empirical agents of this communication, but also textual strategies and hypothesis of interpretation, as Umberto Eco (Lector in fabula. La cooperación interpretativa en el texto narrativo, 1987) suggests. Textual strategies, as author and reader are prefigured in the text in the manner of instructions of different level that compose model images. Hypothesis of interpretation, insofar as the circumstances of enunciation promote intentional updating in function of textual strategies.
Estrella distante, by Roberto Bolaño, example outlined above prescribes an approach of this nature, since author and reader appear situated at the fictional level. We are not only faced with the use of an ancient license of enunciation, by the way, but also with the metafictional exposition of a problem of representation, with important analytical consequences.
I will briefly list some of them:
First of all, making the reference in the act of reading means considering the ontological frontiers between reality and fiction. As for the characters, the limits of the narrative universe are affected when references to real beings are introduced into that universe.
Secondly, the intrusion of references to real people in the story installs a paradox of interpretation, which cannot be resolved in a historical or biographical reading, nor in a reading of absolute fictionalization of the referent.
Finally, author and reader installed in the horizon of the textual reference are always images, worked by distances, of the real reader and the real author. The work on these distances, in turn, marks in the text indeterminations, sometimes empty, that are the object of interpretation through inferences, which converge in the appeal of intermediate entities between the real agents and the fictional agents, respectively, Model Author and Model Reader (see Eco, Lector in fabula. La cooperación interpretativa en el texto narrativo, 1987).
We can consider, then, that the character can be constituted, beyond the power that is traditionally conferred on him as an actor within the story, in an operative and functional axis of representation as a fundamental component of the referential dimension of the literary space when it is instituted within the narrative, by acquiring a certain dramatic density. It is a vehicle for the perceptions of the narrative world, an informant of scenographic connections, a vehicle for the thematization of its corporal value, and a problematizing element of the ontological status of the story.
The character is a serious thing!
I invite you, friends, to read the story “Pierre Menard, author of Quixote” so that, through the observation of his narrator (who is also a character) and the referenced Menard, you begin to explore the implications that the role of character can explore in the vast universe of fictional representations.
Bolaño, R. (1993/1996). Estrella distante. Barcelona: Anagrama.
Borges, J. (1944/1986). “Pierre Menard, autor del Qujote”. In: Ficciones – El Aleph – El Informe de Brodie. Caracas: Fundación Biblioteca Ayacucho.
Eco, U. (1987). Lector in fabula. La cooperación interpretativa en el texto narrativo. (Translation: Ricardo Pochtar). Barcelona: Lumen.