Stylistics of the author and of the reader.
The notions of encoding and decoding
Decoding stylistics is the most recent trend in stylistic research that employs theoretical findings in such areas of science as information theory, psychology, statistical studies in combination with linguistics, literary theory, history of art, literary criticism, etc. Decoding stylistics makes an attempt to regard the esthetic value of a text based on the interaction of specific textual elements, stylistic devices and compositional structure in delivering the author’s message. This method does not consider the stylistic function of any stylistically important feature separately but only as a part of the whole text. So expressive means and stylistic devices are treated in their interaction and distribution within the text as carriers of the author’s purport and creative idiom. Decoding stylistics helps the reader in his or her understanding of a literary work by explaining or decoding the information that may be hidden from immediate view in specific allusions, cultural or political parallels, peculiar use of irony or euphemy, etc. The term ‘decoding stylistics’ came from the application of the theory of information to linguistics by such authors as M. Riffatrre, R. Jacobson, P. Guiraud, F. Danes, Y. Lotman, I. V. Arnold and others. In a rather simplified version this theory presents a creative process in the following mode. The writer receives diverse information from the outside world. Some of it becomes a source for his creative work. He processes this information and recreates it in his own esthetic images that become a vehicle to pass his vision to the addressee, his readers. The process of internalizing of the outside information and translating it into his imagery is called ‘encoding’.. The reader is supposed to decode the information contained in the text of a literary work. However to encode the information does not mean to have it delivered or passed intact to the recipient. There are more obstacles here than meet the eye. In contrast to the writer who is always concrete the reader who is addressed is in fact an abstract notion, he is any of the thousands of people who may read this book. This abstract reader may not be prepared or willing to decode the message or even take it. The reasons are numerous and various. In M. Tsvetaeva’s essay «Poets on Critics» in which she maintains that reading is co-creative work on the part of the reader if he wants to understand and enjoy a work of art. Reading is not so much a hobby done at leisure as solving a kind of puzzle. What is reading but divining, interpreting, unraveling the mystery, wrapped in between the lines, beyond the words, she writes. So if the reader has no imagination no book stands a chance. From the reader’s point of view the important thing is not what the author wanted to say but what he managed to convey in the text of his work. That’s why decoding stylistics deals with the notions of stylistics of the author and stylistics of the reader. Essential concepts of decoding stylistic analysis and types of foregrounding Decoding stylistics investigates the levels phonetic, graphical, lexical, and grammatical. It studies expressive means provided by each level not as isolated devices that demonstrate some stylistic function but as a part of the general pattern on the background of relatively lengthy segments of the text, from a paragraph to the level of the whole work. The underlying idea implies that stylistic analysis can only be valid when it takes into account the overall concept and aesthetic system of the author reflected in his writing. Ideas, events, characters, emotions and an author’s attitudes are all encoded in the text through language. The reader is expected to perceive and decipher these things by reading and interpreting the text. Decoding...
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