Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
J . Adamson
Textual determinacy cannot be construed either as an inherent aspect of textuality, nor can it be discounted altogether as an invalid epistemological category. Instead, the construction of a text necessarily anticipates and exploits the pressure of a reader's interpretive, abductive logic. This allows the prefiguring in the text of readerly recognitions which become meaningful in terms of the intertextual and linguistic systems which structure that readerly logic . This logic drives the reader to comprehend (to see together) the text's signs by finding in the textual assemblage patterns of consistency and coherence which allow the segmentation of the text into clusters which operate as planes of "aboutness" or isotopies. The possibilities of organization or segmentation are delimited by the reader's "competence" which is a function of his or her access to culturally erected structures of communication, whether these are specifically "Literary" structures or more general models accessible through the reader's knowledge of generic or linguistic patterns of semiotic organization. There is, of course, a continuum of textual behaviour with regard to the rigidity of the text ' s anticipated manipulation of the reader, and its poles have been variously designated "open and closed" or "readerly and writerly" textuality. This paper's analysis of "Quentin's" section of William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury investigates its textual function with regard to these categories in the production of two istopies: those describing the fabulae and the focal character of the section. Like open or writerly texts, this section works to erode the reader's ability to interpret through the most specific and semantically pre-structured forms of literary competence. But unlike open and writerly texts, the section under consideration does not then work to tolerate a plurality of interpretive possibilities. Instead, it exploits this relatively clear space to elicit a highly unique, but highly determinate and reproducible set of interpretants. Quentin's section closely regulates the readerly production of interpretants in at least two instances through the arrangement of information such that the reader , governed in both the construction of individual isotopies and the textual meaning configuration by the principles of contradiction and non-confirmation , finds only one arrangement (albeit of varying semantic density) which can be constructed from the textual information and which will successfully, productively , engage the other meaning levels of the text.
Paradis, Kenneth, "Textuality and Interpretive Logic: the Construction of Fabulae and Character in Quentin's Section of The Sound and the Fury" (1994). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 6529.
McMaster University Library