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From: "Jonathan Laidlow" <LAIDLOJM@hhs.bham.ac.uk>
Subject: (urth) Foucault
Date: Fri, 17 Dec 1999 12:09:39 GMT

Jeremy also wrote:
"So what F. challenges is not the author as individual who writes, but author as unified 
idea. We should be looking at the system of dispersion of discourse, its discontinuities, 
how it ebbs and flows together. You already provided a good summary of the author-
function (must cut and paste into myown notes!)."
Precisely - the author, as well as being a physcial being who writes, is also a constructed 
feature of discourse, which works on some levels to control the reception of that 
discourse - hence my suggestion of the very different ways we might read Kilgore Trout's 
'BotNS'. Your quote from Foucault looked excellent - I've been searching for more 
discussion of the Author Function, is it readily available in a collection? I'd be grateful if 
you'd send me more details privately (vacation email to: ultan01@yahoo.co.uk)
On Materiality of the book Jeremy said:
"Well the only thing I can think of is how certain texts might be seen to bevalorised by 
receiving expensive bindings and illustration plates."
Its a bit more than that in my own research - stems from the belief that rather than read 
works as the genius outpourings of a solitary figure we should recognise the influence and 
importance of editors, publishers, artists, type-setters and so forth in the process of 
production. Sterne is an interesting figure because, like Blake but on a commercial level, 
he chose to keep tight control over the appearance of his books - choosing the format 
(octavo), layout, and special features (wobbly lines, black pages, use of footnotes 
merging with the main text). One Sf example might be Alfred Bester's 'Stars my 
Destination' (or is it the Demolished Man) which plays with concrete poetry later on, and 
was butchered by editors at one point. Now happily restored. The point is that meaning 
does not just come from one source - whether that be the author's stated purpose, or the 
linguistic units on the page.
The argument continues in the debate in the 80s over the 'correct' edition of Joyce's 
Ulysses, which started from the principle that Joyce's aims had been misrepresented in 
the original published edition because of editorial interference. A 'corrected' text duly 
appeared. This was then lambasted by a scholar who argued that Joyce had been 
working with the publishers to insert jokes and other references in the published edition. I 
forget the exact details, but one of them was the appearance of a number in the text that 
corresponded to the page that it appeared on.

" On theother hand, there is a more underground literature (not, after F., theVictorian 
again!) which might "mask" its interior (anyone read the SixteenPleasures?). This was 
Clute's idea in that Salon piece I guess. You have toknow the "code" to access the 
material, and there is a certain jargon,look, illustration type, etc that signals to the 
cognoscenti. So there is a"discourse" to the appearance of the book which can exclude 
or filteraccess. Well, maybe not! You'll have to tell us more about your work..."

I seem to remember an argument that Oscar Wilde's plays, while performed in the 
mainstream London theatres, also contained lots of jokes which old made sense to the 
turn of the century London gay culture. As these were deliberately designed not to be 
understood by the 'ordinary' audience, there was some debate about whether these 
sections should be spelt out in modern editions of the plays, or left for the reader to take 
or leave.

Right, I'm finishing work now until the new year. I should have sporadic access to my 
Uni account via the web and will keep checking the Urth and Whorl lists. Should any of 
you like to contact me, it would be best to use my yahoo email account, 

Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays and have a fantastic New Year if I don't get back to 
the list.

Visit Ultan's Library - A Gene Wolfe web resource
Jonathan Laidlow
University of Birmingham, UK

*More Wolfe info & archive of this list at http://www.urth.net/urth/

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