The Meaning of a Literary Text as a Mental Construct and as an Event in Literary Communication
The present article is an attempt to synthesize the existing interdisciplinary knowledge on the concept of literary meaning, to argue for an alternative conception of textual meaning, and to analyze the meaning of a literary text in view of the “cluster conception” – an alternative conception about the nature of text and textual meaning – introduced by Anders Pettersson. Accordingly, the meaning of a literary text is considered as a mental construct comprised of author’s meaning, readers’ meanings and commentators’ meanings. It discusses the author’s and the reader’s involvement in a dynamic communication as a process in which meaning is not identified, as is generally conceived, but construed through experiencing and interpreting a complex of signs. This article argues that since “cluster conception” refers to verbal communication in general, it can offer a new perspective to focus on the specific nature of meaning-making in literary communication. It stresses the importance of describing the reader’s cognitive and emotive response to the “otherness” and singularity of a literary work, explicated by Derek Attridge, not as property of the latter, but as an event taking place in reception.