The Concept of Author and Authorship

Any work of literature is incomplete without its author. The understanding of the author and his purpose with respect to the field of writing.

But this concept is way more difficult than just understanding that the author is the creator of a piece of work. Since centuries there have been extensive pieces of research paper writings upon the concept of author.

Therefore, it becomes important to understand that he is not just a person who writes and compiles a piece of work, but a lot more than that, thus, literature students may sometimes require assignment help with the understanding of the concept.

An author can be defined as an individual who uses his talent, experience and imagination to create a distinct work of his own. The original work of the author is lifelong credited to his name. Even if the author wants to give the credit to somebody else, it still has his own name as the originator of the text. And in this way the author is given a special status and standing in the society.

Since the very early times, the concept of author and authorship has been extensively worked upon and decided for the way an author has to be credited with his work. In the same manner, the concept soon became a concern of various post structural theorists.

These theorists, in their research paper writings, have specified that an author is not a person creating a work rather a space where there is a culmination of lot, action, settings, dialogues or a site where all these ideas converge in order to give a unified look to the all the above-mentioned features. Imagine, a setting where all actions of a particular event take place, that is what the author has been defined as by these post structural theorists.

An author knowingly or unknowingly creates the piece of work into his mind and the sheet of paper is the culmination of all his ideas. Various theories have suggested that the author is a product rather than a producer of a particular piece of work. Or he can be described as an effect or function as a result of the play of language and its plot.

The most important theory on this concept of author was given by Roland Barthes in his essay The Death of the Author. In this essay Barthes says that in order to understand a piece of work without any bias it is important to omit the understanding of the author of that piece of work.

Barthes, in his research paper writing, says that an author is the one who limits the understanding of a particular piece of text. The reason behind this is that once we get an understanding of the background of the author of the text, we try to figure out things using his perspective in turn restricting our own perspective.

There may be several ways of interpreting a text depending upon how a person perceives that particular piece of information provided to him or her. For example, the lines: The woods are lovely, dark and deep,

          But I have promises to keep.

          And miles to go before I sleep,

          And miles to go before I sleep.

Can be interpreted in a number of ways depending upon the perceptions by different people. For some the sleep may be eternal, for some the sleep may be just a small break and for some they may stick just to the literal meaning not understanding the essence behind it.

On the other hand, if a person understands and knows about the background of Robert Frost, he may just interpret the text keeping in mind the view that Frost developed about nature and how, using symbols he expressed the most important lessons of life.

Therefore, Barthes said that for a complete understanding of a literary text, it is important that one completely omits the background of the author (death of the author means ignoring the author while interpreting and analyzing a piece of literature).

In contrast to Barthes essay, Michel Foucault came up with his essay known as What is an Author? in order to tell the readers that an author must be kept in mind while interpreting a literary text.

He talked about the origin of the ‘author function’ in our culture as well as the literary world. His essay talked about certain investigations with respect to the author, which are- the process of individualization of an author, the status he has been accorded, how the concept of man-and-his-work criticism came into being, and various other such questions. Foucault’s essay became a basis for further understanding of concepts and studies that stated that the concept of authorship (the qualities possessed by an author) is developed by a natural process and course of events. Instead, it is stated that, authorship developed as a result of cultural impact that kept on changing with changing times, social and economic conditions and cultural environment.

Various cultural historians have stated an important role of the historical developments upon the development of author and authorship, which are necessary to be understood for an effective assignment help:

  • The very first impact was by the shift from the oral to literature culture. In the oral culture, the identity of an author was neither known nor required to be known while in the latter culture it became an important part of the literary tradition, to know the author.
  • Later on, there was a shift in the 15th and 16th century, from the manuscript culture to the print culture. In the print culture too, the identity of the author is required so that he may be provided financial support and he keeps on giving wings to his talent. The print culture saw a vast increase in writings as well as equal demand for them. Thus, it became to identify the author, which during the manuscript culture was not that necessary. Foucault also emphasized the importance of punitive function in the concept of authorship.


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