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138Philosophy and Literature The idea of such a community is central to Watkins's conception of literature, which he demonstrates in a series of analyses of the works of Tomlinson, Faulkner, and Merwin. This means that the critic's reading of a poem involves both a moment of identification "and a moment of critical integrity which requires him to respect the difference between himself as critic and the author of the poem. As a consequence, criticism can be judgmental, even antagonistic, and still realize the fineness and inclusiveness of the work being studied" (p. 216). It is not surprising, given his adherence to dialectics, that Watkins rejects the structuralist criticism of Barthes or Derrida. To structuralism the literary work is precisely an object to be described. Nor is the structuralist able to understand his own activity as interaction. The critic's language is seen as a meta-language only to be understood through a new meta-language, and so forth. To Watkins, structuralist criticism stands as an example of bourgeois, reified consciousness. The Critical Act is not a beginner's book. The theories it discusses are intensely complicated and they lose nothing of their complexity in Watkins's exposition. The reader is rewarded for his labors, however, through the boldness of Watkins's project and the ingeniousness of many of the solutions he proposes to some of the most difficult problems of modern critical theory. University of Lund, SwedenSvante Nordin The Role of the Reader: Explorations in the Semiotics of Texts, by Umberto Eco; viii & 273 pp. Bloomington and London: Indiana University Press, 1979, $17.50. In his earlier study, A Theory of Semiotics (1976), Umberto Eco put forth the notion of "unlimited semiosis" in which the signifier "does not, in principle, designate an object, but on the contrary conveys a cultural content" (Theory, p. 61). He also spoke of an aesthetic text as more complexly coded than non-aesthetic texts, and an interpretive ground where numerous intersecting codes allow for multiple readings of a text. Most importantly, in terms of the present book, in A Theory Eco began to place a new emphasis on the reader (the addressee) of the aesthetic text: "A responsible collaboration is demanded of the addressee. He must intervene to fill up semantic gaps, to reduce or further complicate the multiple readings proposed, to choose his own preferred path of interpretation, to consider several of them at once" (Theory, p. 276). The Role of the Reader expands on all of these themes with clarity and vividness, and provides lucid and persuasive readings of both "open" and "closed" texts. The connotation-laden designations of "aesthetic" and "non-aesthetic" texts have been dropped in favor of "open" and "closed" texts. This difference is based on the triad of Sender-Message-Addressee with a code shared by Shorter Reviews1 39 Sender and Addressee to use in decoding the Message. But a text contains many messages which function at various levels using different codes. The codes of the Addressee are likely to be different from those of the Sender. The Addressee must actualize the Message; open texts exploit the role of the Addressee who must cooperate with the author to make a reading through involved "textual inference based upon an intertextual competence" (pp. 4-5). AU texts in this way are open to a degree, but those Eco terms as "open" exploit this cooperation most fully. The author of the open text must posit a Model Reader who is "supposedly able to deal interpretatively with the expressions in the same way as the author deals generatively with them" (p. 7). The open text points to and creates its own Model Reader. Closed texts, on the other hand, are those which are open to everyone; that is, where the author has no concept of a Model Reader who generates a reading based on intertextual competency and shared codes, but instead the end (the reading) ofthe text is predetermined and formulaic. Closed texts rely on iterative schemes with which the reader is already familiar; in fact, the reader of the closed text has a "hunger for redundancy" (p. 120). Open texts are characterized by their "pluraprobability" while closed texts rely on fulfillment...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 138-139
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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