Friday, March 14, 2014


Textuality and the Word Text

Roger Shattuck (1923-2005), "Nineteen Theses on Literature," Candor and Perversion: Literature, Education, and the Arts (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1999), pp. 3-8 (no. VI on p. 5):
Works of literature are written by individual authors using an existing language with reference to material nature and human nature. The doctrine known as textuality makes a triple denial of these entities. Textuality denies the existence of the natural world, of literature, and of authors.
Id. (no. VIII on p. 5):
In order to affirm literature in its full humanist sense, let us eschew the freestanding word text. Its indiscriminate use today provides evidence of deadening stylistic conformity. Rather, let us take advantage of the full range of terms like book, work, poem, play, novel, essay, passage, chapter, and the like. There is no need to modify serviceable expressions like "the text of" a work, and "sacred texts." But let us refrain from endorsing, indirectly and inadvertently, the doctrine of textuality by chanting "text" in every other line of what we say and write.

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