Some reflections on the “authority of the author”

(By Carolina Gainza)

The idea of a performative action of writing founded in Barthes “the dead of the author” is highly relevant in the analysis of hypertextual narratives. In my opinion, and from what we have been discussing in class, hypertextual narratives function as a game, where the role of the reader is to submerge him/herself in the game of reading and interpreting. As Barthes poses, the end of the author is related to this performative action played by the readers in the act of interpreting, of receipting a text and transforming it.

“To give a text an author is to impose a limit on that text, to furnish it with a final signified, to close the writing” (147)… I think that Borges would agree with this quotation, as we can see in “Pierre Menard” or “Tlön, Uqbar”. Both are concerned with the interpretation of texts, the possibility of re-elaboration, and the exercise of re-writing a text… This is what Menard wants to do with the Quixote. The enthusiasts of hypertext propose that the authority of the author has been more attacked since the development of hypertextual literatures, because the reader has the ability to follow different paths in a non-linear narrative that makes the author to lose control over his/her creation.

From Aarseth’s readings we can learn that we have to be careful with this kind of approaches.  In cybertexts, there is different relation between the author and the reader, but I am not sure if we can say that the reader becomes the author. Although the reader of hyperfictions can make choices regarding the paths of reading, the author still controls the paths followed by the text, because he/she previously determined them (at least in the hyperfictions that we have been “cyber” reading). Thus, the performative reading in hyperfictions can involve more options, more possibilities of interpretation, but… does it mean more freedom for the reader? Does it mean the death of the author? Are we confronted with an even more authoritarian author than the “modern” author?. We could think that the readers have more options in terms of creation and participation in the production of texts, but, is it not other of the “false options” that the late capitalist production make us believe that we have?   If Literature has been always a place where subjectivities are produced, I think it is important to think in these questions and the real possibilities that this hypertextual literatures present, beyond its novelty and technological promises.


~ by cgainza on February 15, 2010.

%d bloggers like this: