Willa Cather's Use of Planetary Light Imagery to Depict Character in Selected Novels


In 1987 it was revealed that Paul de Man, one of the apostles of the death of the author, had published a great number of anti-Semitic and pro-Nazi articles in the collaborationist Belgian newspaper Le Soir. The revelation "set in motion a process of reevaluation ... of the ethics of detaching the text from its writer [and] brought the author back to the center stage" (Burke 1). In spite 9f Barthes' vociferous declaration of the death of the author that came as a culmination of a long and feverish campaign led by a number of staunch advocates of variations on the "death of the author" doctrine which span the whole twentieth century, "The authorial subject returns, the (auto)biographical disrupts, enhances and displaces aspects of their work, a return which ... takes place almost instantaneously with the declaration of authorial departure"(Burke 7). In brief, a deconstruct ve reading of the texts of these writers reveals that what is said is contradicted by what is unsaid; their texts mean what they do not say and say what they do not mean. Some thinkers have chosen a more dramatic way of response; for Bradbury, for example, "The comedy has its basis in r-"'ng nt- +h ir. ....,,or fonaTe1 """'+- llo.r-A.nC1Tr11,1'"'f1r'\..,.... '1""17.0 rl'"' ..,'"""'+ £"11 -n+r£"'\.l ,.... .. • • .. ... 4 Thi'JIT V.l.l\.1 V.l. L.lJ.'\.1 lVVH.l.\.11 l.\.111\.tl.i:l V.l .LJ'\.1\.IVHi:lll U\..IUVll --l.llU.l. VV \.I UV ll.Vl. vVllLl Vl language: language (that impersonal, endless play of signifiers) controls us. It (rather than _writers) writes books" (qtd. in Burke 22). Willian1 Gass -; - .! .. - - • ; ... -- -; - - ..,._ -- • ; :speaKS Ul :SUU:SillUUHg . tne WISH IOf Ille UeeO \,t}IU. lil DUIKe L.L), iOr LUe death of the author is not so much a fact as a wish. It is, in my opinion, an expediency, or an ideology. It is somehow a murder, more a "performative than constative" (Burke 29) act. At best, it is a mere method of reading which in no way invalidates the other methods. By the very logic of Postmodernism there is no transcendental signified, and by the logic of intentionalists, to use Juhl's image, the author is not a monkey (Interpretation: An Essay in the Philosophy of Literary Criticism), though


Asad Al-Ghalith