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"Here a biographical item from Frost's personal background seems to shed light on his poetry. Some would argue that that is an improper way to approach literature, but I have always felt that literature is the writer. How can one separate one's life from one's writings completely?"

It has been a long time since I studied this, but I think that was once one of the big debates. When I was in college all the French guys were real big (Jacques Derrida and Roland Barthes et. al) and popularized by Stanley Fish ("Is There A Text In This Class"), and the whole point is that literature is not the WRITER, it is the READER.

I think that is true, it is the READER that creates the story, the writer merely creates a canvas upon which the reader can work. The writer can create a magnificent canvas, a mediocre canvas, or a poor canvas.

Take an example like "The Road Less Travelled," where someone noted that the significance of the poem is different now than when they read it in grade school.

How can we account for this change in significance?

The circumstances of the WRITER have not changed, he is still dead and buried, the text of the poem has not changed. What has changed is the thinking of the READER, and that has in turn changed the meaning of the poem.

Someone once asked Walt Whitman what he meant when he wrote a particular poem. He replied: "When I wrote it, only God and I knew what I meant, now only God knows."

When a writer creates something, it takes on a life of its own, something that he can no longer control, and people react to it in ways not expected. Anyone who has taken a creative writing class where works are read aloud experiences this. You wait in anticipation for people to react to the really clever allusions you included in the work, but instead they react strongly to something in the work that you didn't give a second's thought to, and never noticed yourself.

So who really created the significance of the work, the author or the audience?

Well, in any case, this is the most I have used my brain in a long time, this board is great. I'd give anything to go back to when I spent my days reading Derrida, as people say, education is wasted on the young.
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