Yeats's manuscripts and authorial intention.
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The undermining of authorial intention through intertextuality and its consequent implications can sometimes lead to false assumptions about, not simply the meaning of texts, but the strategies used by authors in conveying meaning. This can be particularly perplexing when critics, bolstered (perhaps unwittingly) by the sense of conceptual freedom granted to them by notions such as ‘the death of the author’, use formal elements to impose meaning. If poetic meaning is open to interpretation, the critic should use discretion in working with this fact. This article touches on the problems surrounding authorial intention and also considers how intertextuality provides valid insights into poetic interpretation; it contends that an investigation of manuscript materials can offer supporting evidence concerning clearly discernible instances of authorial intention. Such an investigation might also be of help in rebutting freer interpretations, or interpretations based on formal elements that played no role in the conception and development of the poem. The essay focuses on Yeats, and draws on the wealth of materials published in the Cornell Edition of Yeats's manuscripts (2007. The Tower, 1928, Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press).
- Faculty of Humanities