the rigorous m

bits and bobs, quotes and catching up

said on opera, criticism

Posted by rigorousm on May 27, 2011

“Much of the great outburst of intellectual energy in recent literary criticism has focused on the difficulty, even the impossibility of interpretation. Psychoanalysis, semiotics, linguistics, deconstruction, feminist theory and Marxism have so expanded our notions of what a text or an authorial performance is that buying what was meant in King Lear or Ulysses is now an enormously complex enterprise. At its best, interpretation has therefore become inventive, a form of deliberate misreading, supplying all sorts of frankly conjectural possibilities as a way of rendering the work’s historical distance, the author’s silence, the critic’s manifest power over the work. Texts that are subject to the turanny of the unconscious or the tactics of class are no longer read for their lifelike depiction of characters, settings, or history. “Wordworth” has become a convenient shorthand for the writer whose text — a much more significant word– is the tangled meeting place for innumerable and unstable forces, none of them renderable “realistically” in a way that photograph of waterfall represents a real waterfall.”

“Mozart’s characters… can be interpreted not as individuals with definable characteristics but as figures driven by forces outside themselves that they don’t comprehend and make no effort to examine. These operas, in fact, are about power and manipulation that reduce individuality to a momentary identity in the vast rush of things. There is very little room in them for providence, or for the heroics of charismatic personalities.”

Edward Said – Collected Reviews – The Barber of Seville, Don Giobanni, The Nation 9/26/1987


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