Rezo Karalashvili - Literary Theoretician Cover Image

რეზო ყარალაშვილი - ლიტერატურის თეორეტიკოსი
Rezo Karalashvili - Literary Theoretician

Author(s): Levan Bregadze
Subject(s): Theory of Literature
Published by: ლიტერატურის ინსტიტუტის გამომცემლობა
Keywords: reader-response criticism; author; reader; addressee; language;

Summary/Abstract: The start of poststructuralist literary studies in Georgia is associated with the name of Reso Karalaschwili. In the 1970s he published several articles and in 1977 – the book titled “The book and the reader” in which the fundamentals of reader-response criticism were represented and which has expanded our knowledge of the essence of a literary text and the interrelationship between components of triad -author– text – reader. This doctrine significantly raised the status of a reader by having drawn attention not only to the reader's role in perceiving a text in the process of ”bringing to life” the author’s work, but also to the readers mysterious participation in the text creating process – a reader became a co-author of the text. Reso Karalaschwili introduced the names of deep-thinking foreign scholars Georgian literary studies such as Roman Ingarden, Hans Robert Jauss, Wolfgang Iser and others. According to the reader-response criticism, the reader is a co-author of a literary text. Such a view of a literary work does not call for a voluntary, arbitrary interpretation of the text. Reso Karalaschwili used to emphasize: “… it should not be understood that the reader is entitled to put any content into a literary work”, a correct interpretation of a literary work requires from the reader the knowledge, finding, discovery of the artistic code, – explains the author and to illustrate this thought, he uses following comparison: “In this respect, a literary work may be compared with a box. To put something into the box, you need the key that can open it. An attempt to open the box with any other key may result only in ruining the box (i.e. artistic system)”. The opinions cited above caused indignation of the scholar elite back then, which was accustomed to search for the meaning put into the literary text once and for all by the author, while in fact we will never be able to say for sure whether or not we have detected“the objective meaning”, since our interests, our wishes and even the direction of our attention play a role of a assigner of the meaning. On the other hand, a very interesting thing happens A competition of interpretations begins, in which the interpretation grounded best wins. We cannot exclude the possibility of emerging several equally convincing interpretations, which, to say the least, enlivens literary life. Reso Karalaschwili writes: “There are fundamental studies on literary communication, the relationship between the author and a reader (...). I tried to make one more step in this direction and to review artistic system in relation with a reader.”Let us decode the aforesaid. Reader-response criticism, on the one hand, implies concretization-reconstruction of a literary text by a reader in a reading process, and the co-authorship of the reader is reflected in the fact, that that the reader fills the “omitted” areas(which are innumerable in a literary text) with his/her own imagination. This segment of reader-response criticism has been processed scrupulously by Roman Ingarden. On the other hand, the reader’s co-participation is supposed still in the process of text creation. This is one of the most mysterious aspects of creativity and hence is the least studied segment. Reso Karalaschwili speaks just about this sphere, when he writes: “I tried to make one more step in this direction and to review artistic system in relation with a reader.” The issue raised by Reso Karalaschwili includes three questions: 1. Does a (potential) reader participate in the text creating process? 2. If he/she does, in which form does he/she participate? 3. On which stage/stages of the text creating process does he/she participates? Reso Karalaschwili’s answer to all these questions is as follows: 1. A (potential) reader participates in a text creating process(although some authors categorically deny this and consider the creative act a spontaneous self-revealing process). 2. A (potential) reader participates in the text creating process as an “addressee”. This is evident when the author directly addresses a reader or involves a reader as a character. It is clearly noticeable also in the adventure, especially detective literature, where the author clearly plays on the reader’s nerves.In some cases an addressee is hidden, is not obvious. 3. A (potential) reader participates at all stages of the text creating process– sometimes explicitly, sometimes implicitly. It is essential to single out, to name such textual element, which is indispensable for all texts and at the same time undoubtedly has the dialogue nature, i.e. this element inherently excludes that the author acts completely separately from a future recipient of the text. Reso Karalaschwili finds and names such indispensable textual element:The language. He says: “The addressee is now as indispensable moment of creating process, as generally of the language, and communication between them is the basic function and purpose of the poetic language. Communication, as a concept, suggests in itself the existence of a transmitter and a recipient. Thus, the existence of an addressee follows from the very nature of the language.” By this reasoning Reso Karalaschwili made serious contribution in the development of reader-response criticism. Unlike the Roland Barthes’ viewpoint, that he expressed in the article ”The death of the author” (1967), Reso Karalaschwili does not consider the writing (in contrast with reading) to be anim personal activity, because a work of art is a tool of self-cognition and self-reflection as well,hence it objectifies the creative person’s complicated inner-spiritual process in the form of language, which means that the text addressee can also be the author himself/herself. (Here the second function of the language emerges: The language as a tool of thinking, in this case – of self-cognition.) Thus, the communication function of the language does not allow writing to be a process isolated from a future recipient of the text, and the language as a tool of thinking, in this case – of self-cognition, makes it possible writing not to be an impersonal activity.

  • Issue Year: 2017
  • Issue No: 18
  • Page Range: 54-63
  • Page Count: 10
  • Language: Georgian