Foucault’s piece “What Is an Author?” is trying to explain the true meaning of an author. He states that the author is not simply a writer’s name, but the author is the true meaning behind his work. Foucault believes that the name of an author is a symbol or representation to the world of a certain style of writing, a way of thinking, or a new philosophy. Foucault explains that the readers must be ready to interpret works in a way that suits the reader, not looking for the author’s “style” or well known ideas. The author brings an even greater meaning to a piece of work that causes a work to be more focuses on the name where as it should be only focused on the texts.
Foucault writes about two main topics: the function of an author’s name, and the lack of necessity for distinguishing an author at all. Foucault, while writing about the use of discursive units (abstractions) to encapsulate concepts, realized that the name of an author performs a similar function. An author’s name serves to take ownership of a potentially slanderous or heretical idea; it assumes legal responsibility for a work. Furthermore, it frequently begins to be connected with certain specific avenues of discourse or communication. For instance, various authors are associated with certain genres of literature. There are many ways in which the “author-function” serves to identify and distinguish between various lines of original reasoning. However, after examining the various roles of an author, Foucault returns to his original premise, which considers the author as missing from modern literature. The author is not necessary in our modern literature, where the author distances himself from his art and undergoes a literary “death.” Discourse and authorship are no longer necessarily intertwined.NOTE: AUTHOR CANNOT BE ENTIRELY SEPARATED.
Foucault poses questions in his “What is an Author” concerning the nature of the author’s work as well as how the author is connected or not connected to his/her creation. He makes the point that not all writers are authors, using examples such as scientists and mathematicians whose work is built upon by others in their fields of study. Foucault prioritizes the piece of writing rather than the author, and even suggests that we should disregard the author’s identity and rather focus on his/her message. Sometimes when reading a novel, we assume that the author included a certain character or event because of his/her own life. We tend to link authors with their creations so much that we confuse the stories they create with their lives and the opinions of their characters with their opinions. Foucault attempts to reexamine works of literature when the author is stripped away, to scrutinize the work for importance to the reader rather than trivialities in plot. Currently, an author’s name gives his/her work its status, whereas Foucault thinks that the book itself should determine how it is viewed.
After receiving criticism that he has treated authors in an improper manner in his prior work, Foucault’s agenda in “What is an Author?” is to define the purpose and agenda of the author. Foucault wants to carefully focus upon the connection of the author to his writing, and he suggests that the author should be greatly removed from his work. In Foucault’s attempt to define an author, he roughly declares that not all writers are authors, but that all authors are writers. He explains that there has to be limit to how the word author is used. Additionally, he explains that the name of an author is quite different from any other proper noun and that people tend to use the name of an author too often, rather than focusing upon the subject of the writing. The majority of the piece centers upon artistic distancing. Foucault believes that it is imperative for the reader to never make the mistake of assuming that the subject of the writing is about the author. He also mentions that there are several different egos or voices within a piece of writing that are completely separate from the voice of the author. In conclusion, Foucault challenges the reader to abandon his question of who the author is and ask about deeper questions about the writing itself.
I think Foucault is making a profound statement on what an author is. He defines what an author’s name itself is and its importance to the piece. By discovering that a famous work was not actually written by the author that the name is attached to does not diminish the value of the work but the credibility of the author. By accepting that the pieces attributed to authors are correct, Foucault explains how the author’s name attached to a work can give it more attention so the ideas and messages (if there are any) can be seen. It can classify works together and create fluidity and connections between pieces by the same author. The influence of an author in a work becomes a “second-self” to the author. The narrator or main subject of the piece can reflect the ideas of the author in this idea of an ego. On the other hand, the narrator could be the counter point of the author’s brain, expressing an opposing view on social, political, or economic issues. The idea of “the death of the author” has some importance. An author has to exist in order to create the work, but it acts as catalyst for the people to use as a basis for their own thoughts and ideas.
WHAT IS AN AUTHOR? –FeucaultIn the essay, “What is an author?”, Feucault argues against and analyzes the preconceived role of an author in the presence of discourse. According to Feucault, the author’s writing becomes “transhistoric” on a level of discourse. The text itself embodies the discourse itself, carrying its own message separate from Feucault. At one point, Feucault states that the name of an author holds significance, but usually when connected to death. If one were to remove historical context, Feucault elaborates on the removal and absence of a present author in the text.
In "What Is An Author", Foucault articulates his beliefs about what it means to truly be an author. Foucault describes to the reader how the idea/concept of an author is much more complex than most people perceive it to be. Foucault believes many writers wish to immortalize themselves in their writings and that some books give the reader perspective to the true nature of the writer. Faucult then ponders on what is truly an authors writings. Is it every single written things he has written in his life or just simply the writings he chooses to publish? Foucault then says how the author name is not simply an element of speech but rather a form of classification for the readers. He then contradicts the previous statements and goes on to explain how writing is an entity of itself. He explains that a work should primarily be based on itself but that the reader should also take into some consideration who actually wrote it and thus ponder upon some of the authors beliefs/ideas.
In the essay, Foucault seems to avoid specifically answering the question, “what is an author?” Rather, he presents various ideas and poses multiple questions to the readers, essentially encouraging his audience to form their own opinions. For example, Foucault ends with the quote, “what matter who’s speaking?” Readers can interpret this question many ways. He could be saying that knowing the “author” is not essential in order to recognize the meaning of a certain work or to extract an idea from it. Foucault is encouraging readers to interpret the text, instead of the author. However, he also mentions that adding an author’s name can actually enhance the writing. Being aware of the author’s culture or background brings another level to the work and can even help provide reasons for his/her actions or ideas.
In Foucalt's "What Is an Author", he sets out to define the true role and function of the author. He makes it quite clear that a recognized author becomes much more than just a name. It absorbs the ideas and theories of their works, thus becoming a symbol for the specific style and mentality of the author. Foucalt also emphasizes the importance of the text over the writer, because, as he states, readers are prone to connecting the text with the life of the author. He says that a work should be judged on its own merits, and not receive prestige on account of its author. To achieve this separation, he proposes that we strip the author from his work.
Foucault's initial analysis to explain what an author is begins with his analysis of the importance of an author's name. He points out that an author's name allows a reader to group together certain works written by the same person that may share one or multiple similar philosophies. These particular philosophies can then be credited to the author who initially employed them; in some respect, every author is able to "birth" his or her own ideas which are prevalent in his or her own texts. The attachment of an author's name also gives authenticity to the statements made in a text, whether scientific of literary, because one is able to judge the reliability of an author's research. However, it appears that Foucault also argues that a text, again either scientific or literary, should prove itself reliable within the text itself. Therefore, one should actually read a text as if the author's presence is removed. Unfortunately, however, Foucault also provides the point that author's write in historical and cultural contexts and are nearly unable to remove those such parameters from his or her writing; historical and cultural factors will always influence texts, which will always influence historical and cultural factors. Though this particular cycle is innately endless, historical and cultural factors are constantly evolving on their own accord. This then will always continue to influence authors and their particular works.
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