September 9, 2012

So What is the Author?

Two of our big readings so far have addressed the role of the author.  In these two readings, Barthes' The Death of the Author and Foucault's What Is an Author?, the issue of the author and his/her role in regards to text and the audience is addressed.  I found Foucault's essay to be much more interesting than Barthes' and I also found his approach to the role of author much more realistic.  Barthes' takes a very close minded approach to the subject of the author and, I feel, he expects too much from the author and the audience.  Foucault on the other hand, makes valid points in his essay that I find to be more accurate.  The most interesting part of Foucault's essay is when he addresses the author-function. 

"The author function is... [a] characteristic of the mode of existence, circulation, and functioning of certain discourses within a society" (Foucault).  I interpret this statement as Foucault explaining how the author affects his/her text and audience based on who he/she is within society.  I relate the author-function to the reputation of the author and how that effects how his/her text is sold and received in society.  Foucault mentions Charles Dickens and his novel Oliver Twist in his essay and I think that is the perfect example to use in regards to the author-function.  I attribute the success of Oliver Twist to the text itself but also partially to the author and who he is within society.  I believe that if Oliver Twist were published with a different author than it would not carry the significance that is does when it has Charles Dickens as the author.  Essentially, the author and his/her role in society greatly effects how a text is received by the audience and whether or not the text becomes a success. I think Foucault addresses this issue and how the author is important to a text unlike Barthes who would like to see a separation between the author and his/her text.

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