Good morning! In today's lecture we shall discuss what meaning is in literary works.
When we read novels, poems, etc. , we invariably ask ourselves a question—that is, what does the writer mean here?
In other words, we are interested in finding out the meaning. But meaning is a difficult issue in literature.
How do we know what a work of literature is supposed to mean or what its real meaning is?
I'd like to discuss three ways to explain what meaning is.
No. 1, meaning is what is intended by the author.
No. 2, meaning is created by and contained in the text itself.
And No. 3, meaning is created by the reader.
Now, let's take a look at the first approach—that is, meaning is what is intended by the author.
Does a work of literature mean what the author intended to mean? And if so, how can we tell?
If all the evidence we have is the text itself and nothing else, we can only guess what ideas the author had according to our understanding of literature and world.
In order to have a better idea of what one particular author means in one of his works, I suggest that you do the following:
First, go to the library and read other works by the same author.
Second, get to know something about what sort of meanings seem to be common in literary works in that particular tradition and at that time.
In other words, we need to find out what the literary trends were in those days.
And last, get to know what were the cultural values and symbols of the time.
I guess you can understand the author's meaning much more clearly after you do the related background research.