In order for your work to truly touch people, you have to die.
In 1967, French Literary critic Roland Barthes proposed a theory he called ‘Death Of The Author’ - that any intention or personality of the author of a work is separated from the creation, meaning the only valid interpretation is in the experience of the reader.
The theory argues that the work and the creator are unrelated.
Essentially; once someone reads your novel, it’s theirs.
Your opinion does not count, your argument is invalid.
You’re reading the first chapter of my new novel, you’re reading a short story I wrote, you’re reading this, and I don’t matter.
And I love it.
What I love about Death Of The Author is that it opens up my work, expanding possibilities I hadn’t considered or intended in the mind of the reader, and also validates each reader’s interpretation by placing the responsibility for discovering the meaning of the work with them solely, and not with what I was trying to make them think, or feel.
When someone asks “Is it about X” the answer is always yes, if that was the way you read it.
Yes, it’s pornography. Yes, it’s about my childhood. Yes the main character is me. Yes I cry when I masturbate. Yes. Yes. Yes.
Death Of The Author is a very inclusive way to view your work. It can open your eyes to the effect your creation has on an individual level, not just a collective one - every single person will read and interpret your work differently, and most of the time in ways you’d never imagined.
To quote Barthes;
“To give a text an Author” and assign a single, corresponding interpretation to it “is to impose a limit on that text.”
In order for your work to truly touch people, you have to die. And I’m alright with that. What that means is up to you.