What do you think?
Rate this book
312 pages, Paperback
First published December 1, 1964
None of us can ever retrieve that innocence before all theory when art knew no need to justify itself, when one did not ask of a work of art what it said because one knew what it did. From now to the end of consciousness, we are stuck with the task of defending art.I ended up finding 'Against Interpretation' useful. Its central claim is that there is a kind of interpretation that is anti-art in that it diminishes the possibilities for appreciating/enjoying/experiencing the art rather than increasing them, which is what criticism (I would still say interpretation*) should (probably) do. I have no longer any anxiety on behalf of the author, but I still generally dislike the kind of interpretation that Sontag seems to be talking about; the kind that says one thing is another in a text and tyrannically insists on this translation. She argues that even if the interpretation that A Streetcar Named Desire is about the decline of Western civilization rather than this encounter between two interesting characters is 'correct' in the sense of being intended and implicit, this is precisely what is weak and 'contrived' about it. In my review of To the Lighthouse I felt the need to criticise both of the introductions, which I suppose is me fighting on behalf of the text or of my experience of the text. I evidently feel that something I want to remain open is being closed down when a psychoanalytic interpretation (for instance) is advanced.