The Text is Just a Map, Not the Journey

reading as evocation

Here is my drawing in response to “The Poem as Event,” the second chapter in Louise Rosenblatt’s The Reader, The Text, The Poem.  In this chapter, Rosenblatt wants to draw a distinction between the text a reader encounters and the response created (or evoked) by the reader under the guidance of the text at a particular moment in time.  This distinction is important in accounting for what readers actually do when they read; that is, because texts can’t speak for themselves and because readers bring their individual experiences and knowledge and attitudes and emotions to their relationships with texts, the response evoked by the reader occurs as a singular event or a one-time journey, not a celebration of the timeless and universal meaning of the text.  Thus, the reader under the guidance of the text at a particular moment in time evokes the poem.  (By “poem” here, Rosenblatt means what readers evoke from texts, not necessarily a real poem.  Yes, it’s confusing.)