ISSN 1409-6900 | UDK 82+7 Blesok no. 58 | volume XI | January-February, 2008
Blesok no. 58,
The Subject with Macedonian Women Prose Writers
(seen in two short stories by Olivera Nikolova and Jadranka Vladova)
In the course of the last decades, the central issue of the academic literary feminism, according to Nina Baum, has become the theory itself. Thus, it seems that the literary theory exists in itself only, completely separate from literature as a (historically) powder charge of its existence. The new literary theory streams follow up on the previous ones, denying or further developing the (almost) philosophical postulates that are the basis for the bigger and bigger distance of theory from literature, the matter and flesh, and its deeper and deeper diving into the abstract, i.e. in itself.
Nevertheless, the literary theory, regardless of the degree of abstraction that it has reached, always concerns one of the points of the eternal trinity: author-text-reader (or, more precisely, in the feminist studies, woman author-text-reader). Within this triangle, one of the most frequent issues is the importance that the theorists place with one or another of these three ends, as well as their mutual relations. Traditionally, until the 20th century, the literary criticism and theory were largely focused on the author. He (and more rarely she) was the stable, firm element behind the work of art (very often identified with the narrator), who used the text to express his ideas and produce certain meanings. The focus of structuralists in the 50es and 60es of the 20th century, on the other hand, moved towards the text, the literary work. Using the linguistic theories of Saussure, they think that literature is not an expression of the creative mind of the author, but a linguistic structure whose meaning is controlled by the rules of the language. Literature is therefore seen as a system (i.e. signifier), of rules and codes (i.e. signs) that enable it to fill itself with meaning (i.e. to signify).
Defocusing from the author in the poststructuralist era somehow culminates with Barthes, who wrote about the death of the author. The American reader-response school, on its behalf, went even further, shifting the focus to the reader (or the female reader), relativising the universality and inalterability of the meaning of the text. Thus, a text can have an endless number of meanings, since every reader, with the very act of reading interacts with the text, giving it his own, unique meaning. A bit later, Derrida, who (as the structuralists) finds the complete meaning of the text in itself only (“there is nothing beyond the text”) introduces temporality in the
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