Understanding Misreading: A Hermeneutic-Deconstructive Approach
9 Pages Posted: 5 Apr 2010
Date Written: November 30, 1996
This paper puts forward a conception of specialised literary criticism, more specifically deconstructive readings, as a mode of communicative interaction which can be described through a pragmalinguistic account. Schleiermacher's conception of the hermeneutic circle provides an adequate bridge between literary criticism and speech production, once we attend to the possible developments of the theory of the hermeneutic circle understanding it as both a temporal process, and an interactional one. This paper, therefore, presents for the purpose of comparison several critical conceptions originating in different schools and dealing with a range of objects of study in criticism. The comparison yields a common element whose outline becomes gradually visible as we proceed, as each of these conceptions (hermeneutics, deconstruction, modernist aesthetics, pragmalinguistics...) brings out aspects which are implicit in the others. This exercise might be compared to the drawing of lines between stars to form a constellation, allowing us to see a previously invisible figure. The lines in constellations may seem too insubstantial as a term of comparison, but the paper will go some length towards the deconstruction of the clear-cut opposition between what is substantial and what is constructed by the imagination, at least as far as the field of interpretive theory is concerned. The thread connecting the critical approaches examined here is the retrsopective rereading of a narrative and its hermeneutic consequences. These consequences might be summarized by saying that the passing of time alters everything, even the past itself, once so safely stored.
Keywords: Criticism, Interpretation, Pragmalinguistics, Pragmatics of literature, Interaction, Hermeneutics, Hermeneutic circle, Eliot, Borges, de Man, Wilde, Hillis Miller, Schleiermacher, Interpretation, Interpretive theory, Deconstruction, Retrospection, Hindsight bias
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