Tuesday, June 5, 2007

burn, baby, burn

Sometimes it's hard to explain why authorial intent isn't actually a useful component of the study of literature, why we think more about the text itself than the biography or opinions of the person who wrote it, why we don't just believe the author about what the book means, what its many messages are. It's hard to explain that intention and context aren't everything, and that a text can take on a life and a meaning of its own, one mediated by history and context and, yes, the reader.

Luckily, Ray Bradbury can explain why an author's conception of their own book may not always be accurate. Fahrenheit 451, you see, isn't about government censorship.

(Relatedly and entertainingly, one of the informants in the book might as well share my name: the next-door neighbor is identified only as Mrs. L. Blake.)

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