The Literary Text: Meaning and Intention

  • Ranjan K. Ghosh
Part of the SpringerBriefs in Philosophy book series (BRIEFSPHILOSOPH)


It deals with the basic question relating to the role of intention in understanding the meaning of a literary text. The term “intention” in the context of the literary text is problematic as it has been understood in various senses such as that of the historical author or poet, that which is objectified in the text or that which is bestowed upon it by the reader. The chapter begins with the epoch making paper on “intentional fallacy” by Wimsatt Jr. and Beardsley and New Criticism and goes on to the various subsequent developments in this direction till we reach the trends in post-structuralism and postmodernism. It is argued that understanding the literary meaning of a poem or text is not quite the same as apprehending the poetic or creative meaning.


Intentionalism Anti-intentionalism New Criticism Speech act theory Poetic meaning Post-stucturalism 


  1. Dowling, W. C. (1985). Intentionless meaning. In W. J. T. Mitchell (Ed.), Against theory: Literary studies and the new pragmatism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  2. Eagleton, T. (1995). Literary theory: An introduction. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  3. Ghosh, R. K. (1987a). The logic of our talk about the Artist’s intention. Indian Philosophical Quarterly, XIV(3).Google Scholar
  4. Ghosh, R. K. (1987b). Concepts and presuppositions in aesthetics. Delhi: Ajanta Publications Chapter: “The Concept of Intention”.Google Scholar
  5. Ghosh, R. K. (1987c). The logic of our talk about the artist’s intention. Indian Philosophical Quarterly, Vol XIV No, 3.Google Scholar
  6. Ghosh, R. K. (1989). Art domesticity, aesthetic significance. In J. James (Ed.), Art and life in India ‘The last four decades’. Shimla: IIAS.Google Scholar
  7. Ghosh, R. K. (2006). Great Indian thinkers on art: Creativity, aesthetic communication, and freedom. Delhi: Black and White (An Imprint of Sundeep Prakashan).Google Scholar
  8. Ghosh, R. K. (1997, January–April). Sentence meaning, intentionalism, and the literary text: An interface. Journals of Indian Council of Philosophical Research, XIV(2).Google Scholar
  9. Goldsmith, S. (1983, Winter). The Readymades of Marcel Duchamp: the ambiguities of an aesthetic revolution. The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism.Google Scholar
  10. Knapp, S., & Michael, W. (1982, Summer). Against theory. Critical Inquiry, (8), 723–742.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Knapp, S., & Michael, W. (1985). Reply to our critics. In W. T. J. Mitchell (Ed.), Against theory: Literary studies and the new pragmatism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  12. Knapp, S., & Michael, W. (1994, Summer). Reply to searle. New Literary History, 25, 674.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Neogi, P. (Ed.). (1961). Rabindranath Tagore on art and aesthetics: From a selection of lectures, essays and letters. Calcutta: Orient Longmans.Google Scholar
  14. Searle, J. R. (1994, Summer). Literary theory and its discontent. New Literary History, 25 (Henceforth NLH).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Shusterman, R. (1988, Spring). Interpretation, intention, and truth. The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Wimsatt, W. K., Jr., & Beardsley, M. C. (1946). The intentional fallacy. Sewanee Review, LIV, 3–23.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ranjan K. Ghosh
    • 1
  1. 1.Indian Council of Philosophical ResearchNew DelhiIndia

Personalised recommendations