Irma Ratiani                                                                                                                                                                                       #10

Author and his Reader. In the Light of Realistic Literary Tradition


Literary text foresees three types of duration: the process of creation, carried out in the boundaries of real time-space parameters and regarding an author as a connector with the text, an artistic continuum, corresponding to the formation of an individual chronotopic model for the concrete text and, at least, the process of perception, which is also implemented in the context of the real time-space, but at this time regarding a reader as a connector with the text. Correspondingly, literary work functions within the frames of three temporal models – author's,  artistic and reader's models, where author's and reader's temporal samples correspond  to the ostensible form of the text and are representing  different layers in the process of realization and perception of artistic temporal model. To regulate the structural interrelation between these positions, special concepts of physical and artistic metrics have been worked out in literary theory. Physical metric, however, designates the duration of a narration and perception, but constantly discusses them in relation with an "artistic metric". Author retells a concrete story during the certain period, reader perceives his narration during the concrete time as well. Here arises a question: How is it possible to define the link between an author and a reader in relation with the particular passage of a text and what theoretical and compositional forms of this contact can exist?

Although, the duration of the story telling is the author's prerogative, and the process of perception is a prerogative of a reader, relation between them is defined from the very beginning: duration of perception is directly linked with the duration of the story telling.

According to the typological point of view, duration of perception distinguishes between two positions: duration of reading and the process of fixation of the read material in consciousness. Therefore, if the process of reading is defined independently from the subject, according to external reasons- it may cause possible slow downs or speeding ups, returning towards the read, a break during the process of reading and so on, - the fixation of the read material in  consciousness, on the contrary, is characterized by homogenous duration: it corresponds to the process of narration and the read material is percepted as a whole. The wholeness of the perception is due to not only the sequence of certain details of the read material but of their organic wholeness. In other words, it is a constant process of merging, when author awakens imagination of reader in the realms of a text and the reader responds to an author’s provocation again within the text. Correspondingly, the contact between the reader and author is formed as an individual theoretical model in the boundaries of a certain literary epoch, style, problematics and methodology. Relation between the author and the reader depends on the stylistic and structural events peculiar of a certain literary system at any stage of the literary development. No exception in this context is the XIX century Realistic Literature.


Realistic Literature emphasized the problem of the relation between the author and a reader. Although, later, in the XX century, Literary Criticism reexamined the term and problem of the "author", and evaluated his role to minimal in the text (T. Eliot, R. Bart, J. Jennet and others), literary tradition of the XIX century does not correspond with this innovative thinking: in realistic literature author and author's chronotope represent the core of the story’s composition and time-space orientation. While reader and reader's chronotope, as the  process of individual reception, is actual, but mostly it is regulated by the author: author refers to the reader, defines, explains, asks, responds, proves, leaves a few so called "blurred places"  or "textual misunderstandings" (to use Izer's terminology), which should be filled or done by the reader. It is well known that the process of reading as a constantly opened perspective, takes into account contextual modifications, on the one hand, and serves for maximum flexibility and transformation of the reader, on the other hand. It means that readers with different historical and sociocultural background become involved in a text in the different way and the process of perception becomes an individual act. Realistic Literature of the XIX century which uses text for declaration of social-national, ethical and philosophical problems, artificially ruins reception of this logics. Realist writer tries to "persuade" the reader, to give certain direction to the process of reception and, aiming to achieve this goal, he uses stylistically modified method of Oratoric Pragmatics.

The bases of Oratoric Pragmatics were formed in Ancient Epoch by Aristotle, when among the multiple functions of the Rhetorics he distinguished its stylistic function: an oratoric influence on the reader, logical sequence of words and a choice of corresponding expressions. The above mentioned three stylistic components are equally necessary for an orator, though their specific gravity largely depends on the orators certain aims and tasks.  In this case, which stylistic component could be expected to be activated, when the author of a literary text acquires the mask of an orator? Usually, author of the literary text tries to be an orator when he is willing to give direction to the reader’s reception and uses word as the main weapon, the organization of words, connectors together with the intonation. This rhetoric function of the word was effectively used in medieval centuries within the method of Allegoric Egzegetics. Aristotle made a suggestion – "word consists of two parts, because it is vital to identify the subject you are discussing and prove it as well" (Aristotle 1981: 195), besides that, "arguments should be persuasive" (Aristotle 1981: 206). According to the method of Allegoric Egzegetics, position of the author (mainly in relation with Biblical texts), regarded as doubtless truth, was adroitly put in the stylistic frames of "saying differently".  It turned out that any text can be objected to the process of allegorical reinterpretation, where author's conceptual strategy would be leading. Towards this direction a noticeable success was achieved by Phorpirius, Proclus, Augustin, later Dante, who with the help of methodology of "saying differently" managed to form not only the theological tradition of Christianity but also the diversity of the culture of text interpretation.  Oratoric Pragmatics was successfully modeled in the poetical system.

Tradition of the Christian thinking was continued in the literature of the following epoch: if neoclassical aesthetic concept took into consideration exceeded doze of rhetorical style, ruining artistic plot of the text and making the narration boring, strongly didactical and logical, Romanticists paid almost no attention to it, which was the other form of extreme. The collapsed balance was restored by the continued realistic tendency which placed oratoric pragmatics in its normal boundaries. The structural regulation of the relation between the author and the reader played an important role in this process: the author, on the one side, was outlined as a conceptual leader, main coordinate of the text, orator, and the reader, on the other side, was presented as a speaker actively involved in a dialogue with an author, intellectual partner, who listens to the narrator and whose support is of an utmost importance for the narrator. Therefore, realistic literature, in general, and Georgian realistic literature, particularly, was based on the modified method of Oratoric Pragmatics, method of a dialogue. It activated the interrelation between the author and the reader as much as possible by means of compositional crossing in the text. The best form for outlining compositional crossing was regarded an open dialogue between the author and the reader, address made by author with the so called “open text”, when he fixes his relation with the reader within the text and invites him on an open dialogue. Fixation of the relation not only  makes the contact between the reader and the author more vivid but also outlines contextual and compositional meaning of structural triangle -author’s chronotope-artistic chronotope-reader’s chronotope.

Realistic author, on the one hand, is an intellectual guide to the text, giving certain directions and, on the other hand, he is constantly awaiting for readers support. Reader may not agree with author, but he must take into consideration his thoughts, as a speaker and a partner. The best form for the realization of such a relation is regarded to be an author’s address towards the reader, a method successfully used in realistic literature.

This statement is well reflected in the creative works of the leader of Georgian realism – Ilia Chavchavadze

Ilia Chavchavadze demanded much more from his works than any writer: he searched not for a simple “reader”, but supporters and like-minded people in Georgian society. He did not need a spectator reader, who would entertain himself with reading for a few hours and then would depart with him. He realized the need of loyal supporters in the period when Georgian people were weakened and plunged in “the puddle of indifference”. In such time literary modification of oratoric pragmatics focusing on the role of an author and intensifying his relation with reader, was regarded as the best alien. Ilia used this method and enthusiastically started taming readers.

Ilia openly invites his reader: retells the story, proves, explains, asks, responds, stands on the tribune of the orator and speaks with his nation. The main point for his Oratoric Pragmatics is morality, because he knows that: “the moral of the speaker has great influence on the listener, who can enrapture audience by means of a word” (Aristotle 1981: 36). He has realized that, “a word addressed to the listener, serves for the gaining of goodwill of listeners, or for causing anger in them, or for drawing their attention, or on the contrary. The drawing of the attention of the reader is not always necessary, that is why a lot of orators try to make the reader smile".

His best novels – “Letters of Traveller”,  “The Widow of the House of Otar”, “Is Human a Man?!” are author-oriented novels. A writer seems to invite the reader in the world of free interpretation, but this seeming freedom is controlled as far as possible.

Ilia had acquired the tribune of orator quite successfully. Rhetorical addresses towards the reader, questions, and slogans, are made in the style of Classical Rhetorics and represent a marvelous sample of Literary Rhetorics.

Author’s frequent addresses towards the reader, which are full not only with the phrases but with the serious discussions and conclusions as well, prove the strong interrelation between the author and the reader. Besides it presents a strong positional contact of the author’s and the reader’s chronotopical models in relation with the chronotopical sample of the literary text.

Norms of Physical Metrics are reserved: author’s attention is concentrated on the contact with the reader during the certain period. This relation is represented in the form of compositional crossing and is established by the method of Oratoric Pragmatics. The relation between the author and the reader is fixed openly (by means of an “open text”) where the author is represented as a leading figure in the dialogue, and the reader as his active listener. Ilia, as a truly realistic writer, never forgets his reader, a person for whom he works.


 In the triangle of the literary studies-author, text and reader-interrelation between the reader and the author is one of the most important and distinguishable peculiarities of the text. We cannot talk about the text without mentioning the reader as well as the author. The peculiarities of that relation define the literary epoch with its aesthetic principles and methodological rules.

In the epoch of realism the relation between the author and the reader is really valuable.

Realistic writer is neither a dictator of the epoch of Neoclassic nor Liberal story-teller of the period of Romanticism – Realist writer looks like a conductor, who despite the controlling each sound (structural circle) of the orchestra (text), for success still constantly needs applauds from the audience. Realistic writers, equipped with the principles of the modified poetic system of Oratoric Pragmatics try to “invade” the heart and the mind of the reader, longing for making the readers their supporters, companions, with whom they can always have a dialogue.



Volume 3, issue 1


Rustaveli Institute of Georgian Literature

Georgian Electronic Journal of Literature