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Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Intentional Fallacy

( The Following is lectures notes by Mr. Pinto - P.S.ENG-III)

Intentional Fallacy was the topic of discussion in Mr. Pinto’s class today. Intentional Fallacy addresses the assumption that the meaning intended by the author, of a literary work, is of primary importance. He said that fallacy was a fault in the argument or something that is not logical. Intentional Fallacy depicts that the writer has the final interpretation. The entire authority of interpretation lies with the author. He supported this with a Marxist example, where he said that the structure had the authority of defining social meaning.

New criticism emerged in the United States of America after the Second World War. Post World War-II lots of “men” sent to fight the war for the government were brought back to the country. In order to engage the soldiers, they were sent to colleges. The classrooms suddenly became huge and it was becoming problematic for the English lecturers especially in keeping the class engaged. To overcome this, the lecturers started handing out photocopies of a poem to the class and told them to interpret it in their own way. Thus it ultimately gave rise to new criticism.
Mr. Pinto then presented us with the argument of Marshal Melchan. With the rise in global media Melchan held the view that technology was determined with how one interacts with it. He supported his argument by saying that the modern day journey is towards loneliness and books primarily does it. He said that when we write poems or journals, we do not invent new things instead we write through our limitations, that is the limitation of language. Mr. Pinto said that what we are learning in the classroom is just another means of getting ourselves accustomed to the structure and power that exist within the system of the society. He again switched back to the argument of Marshal Melchan, he said that theatre or cinema was not meant for a single person but rather directed towards a crowd. Marshall also challenged the existing form of knowledge which in time to come this knowledge could become non- responsive.

Intentional Fallacy is also defined as confusion between the poem and its origin. New criticism emphasises its importance within the text. A text has three classifications:
Ø Internal Evidence: the evidence is present as the facts of a given work. This includes those things physically present in the work itself.

Ø External Evidence: what is not actually contained in the work itself is external. Statements made privately or published in journals, gazettes about the work, or in conversation, e-mail, etc. External evidence is concerned with the claims about why the artists made the work, lessons external to the fact of the work itself.

Ø Contextual Evidence: assumes what the text eventually meant. Concerns any meaning derived from the specific work’s relationship to other art made by the particular artists. Intentional Fallacy is interconnected with the contextual evidence.

Mr. Pinto positioned us with the argument of the New Historicists. New Historicists believed that:
o We will never know what the intention of the author was.
o The author himself does not know what he meant through his writing.
o Even if the author has the plot, a frame work for the text, he can’t control the direction.
New historicist believe that writing precede thought. The fact that writing is born with thoughts and not followed by it, highlights that thought alone cannot exist outside language. He said this saying that even for a ghost to exist ghosts require a body just like thought require language for expression. He ended his lecture saying that Intentional fallacy tries to locate the “gentle hand of the author” which forces us to read the text in a particular way.

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