The Varieties of Authorial Intention

Literary Theory Beyond the Intentional Fallacy

  • John Farrell

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xiii
  2. John Farrell
    Pages 21-108
  3. John Farrell
    Pages 161-197
  4. John Farrell
    Pages 199-237
  5. John Farrell
    Pages 239-243
  6. Back Matter
    Pages 245-274

About this book


This book explores the logic and historical origins of a strange taboo that has haunted literary critics since the 1940s, keeping them from referring to the intentions of authors without apology. The taboo was enforced by a seminal article, “The Intentional Fallacy,” and it deepened during the era of poststructuralist theory. Even now, when the vocabulary of “critique” that has dominated the literary field is under sweeping revision, the matter of authorial intention has yet to be reconsidered. This work explains how “The Intentional Fallacy” confused different kinds of authorial intentions and how literary critics can benefit from a more up-to-date understanding of intentionality in language. The result is a challenging inventory of the resources of literary theory, including implied readers, poetic speakers, omniscient narrators, interpretive communities, linguistic indeterminacy, unconscious meaning, literary value, and the nature of literature itself.


Barthes Death of the author Freud Marx Critique

Authors and affiliations

  • John Farrell
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of LiteratureClaremont McKenna CollegeClaremontUSA

Bibliographic information