By David Birch

ISBN-10: 0203976843

ISBN-13: 9780203976845

ISBN-10: 0415029414

ISBN-13: 9780415029414

Utilizing a wide-ranging number of texts the writer stories and evaluates a huge diversity of ways to textual statement, introducing the reader to the basic contrast among `actual' and `virtual' worlds in severe perform.

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Extra resources for Language, Literature and Critical Practice: Ways of Analysing Text (Interface Series)

Example text

The consequences of this position are that your language, your background, biases, ideas, beliefs, politics, education, etc. determine your understanding. But they are not invented by you. They are socially determined by the institutions and discursive practices that constitute the social networks you are involved in. Consequently, whatever you construct as a reading of a text is what you as reader/critic have created for that text, and it is the result of critical decisions that have been developed as an integral part of your background.

A vague, medicinal stench emanated from her flesh. ‘Don’t worry,’ the nurse grinned down at me. ’ I tried to smile, but my skin had gone stiff, like parchment. Doctor Gordon was fitting two metal plates on either side of my head. He buckled them into place with a strap that dented my forehead, and gave me a wire to bite. I shut my eyes. There was a brief silence, like an indrawn breath. Then something bent down and took hold of me, and shook me like the end of the world. Whee-ee-ee-ee-ee, it shrilled, through an air crackling with blue light, and with each flash a great jolt drubbed me till I thought my bones would break and the sap fly out of me like a split plant.

Linguistic analysis along these lines gives a vocabulary to help explain a reading. This does not mean that Burton is any more likely to have a deeper insight into the text than anyone else, but it does mean that she can explain how a particular response was constructed linguistically. Compare, for example, what Jeremy Hawthorn has to say about his reading of The Bell Jar in his book Multiple Personality and the Disintegration of Literary Character. One important element in The Bell Jar is Plath’s perception of the dehumanizing effect of commercial medicine; Joan tells Esther that she could see the dollar signs in her psychiatrist’s eyes, and shortly after this a nurse tells Esther that when she has earned enough money to buy a car, she will clear out and take only private cases.

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Language, Literature and Critical Practice: Ways of Analysing Text (Interface Series) by David Birch

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