Has interpretation anything to do with truth? This new theory of interpretation denies this, yet it argues that some interpretations are false and some are just. Such contentious theses are justified through a pragmatic model of interpretation as a language-game involving five participants: an author, a text, a reader, a language, an encyclopaedia. The model claims to provide an account of both literary interpretation (through its four stages of glossing, enigma-solving, translation into ather theoretical language, and intervention) and face-to-face dialogue. The central intuition is that authorial intention is radically separated from textual meaning, and that consequently the reader's role is one of necessary imposture. The theory provides extensions of Althusser's concepts of interpellation and ideology, and envisages a corpus of texts both literary (the Ern Malley hoax) and taken from everyday life (the sentence at the heart of the Bentley case: 'Let Him Have It, Chris!').
JEAN-JACQUES LECERCLE is Professor of English at the University of Nanterre, where he teaches English literature, linguistics and the philosophy of language. He is the author of Philosophy Through the Looking-Glass, The Violence of Language and Philosophy of Nonsense.