Wednesday, October 6, 2010

author intent

Jorge-Luis Borges:
Since I do not think often about what I have written, I had not realized (that his story "El Aleph" is about the acceptance of fate). Nevertheless, it is better that (theme) should be instinctive and not intellectual, don't you think? The instinctive is what counts in a story. What the writer wants to say is the least important thing;the most important is said through him or in spite of him."

Emphasis mine.



Jordan said...

I think this is really interesting. I definitely think that forcing a theme on a story as you're writing it can be a great way to stifle yourself. But editing with a theme in mind can help identify extraneous scenes/tangents, too.

OTOH, as a recovering student of high school English (almost 10 years on the wagon!), I sincerely wished we were instructed more to take author intent in mind. I recall one exercise where we were given a list of all the "nature imagery" from one of the books we were reading. This included every detail in any scene set outside.

Now, perhaps in this book, every tree was supposed to be significant, but my word, can we not see when we've taken it too far?

Edittorrent said...

I remember writing a paper about Ode to a Nightingale, and had a very difficult time not referring to the poet. I mean, it was a poem about death, and Keats was to die young, and the melancholy pervaded the poem....
That was hard. I do think it helps deepen the experience of the poem to know about his family's tragic tendency to get TB.


Stella Omega said...

Well, it's lovely when one can address a wonderful theme instinctively, but not always possible. Sometimes you do have to force it.

I have a horror of themes that develop in spite of me. I wanna say what I wanna say, not the opposite of what I wanted to say. Themes that develop perpendicular to my intent now... that's fascinating.

Edittorrent said...

Stella, it's scary to think what can come out "in spite of me!"

"No, really, I -love- my siblings! Really!"