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Isers Act of Reading

Critiquing a Critique: Wolfgang Iser’s The Act of Reading Texts on critical theory present an interesting challenge when one sits down to critique or review them. The purpose of these texts is to persuade the reader that all texts should be read and critiqued in the manner described within its pages. The process of evaluating such a book based on criteria that the reader has already established is made much more difficult by the fact that the focus of the book is to explain, in the majority of the cases, why the criteria being used is inferior to what the book itself recommends. How then, does one approach the problem that surrounds critiquing an instructional text on how to critique?The simplest way to approach the dilemma is to establish whether or not the points made by the author are valid, regardless of whether or not the reader agrees enough with the other to adopt his style of criticism. In this particular case, the author, Wolfgang Iser, is attempting to convince his readers that an approach he calls “aesthetic response” is the proper way to read and critique texts. Iser claims that his style is universal and can be applied to virtually all forms of writing. For this to be true, then one of the books written by Iser to help describe the process, The Act of Reading, should be able to validate his aesthetic response theory once it is read and critiqued by the manner described within the theory itself. Interestingly enough, the style of Iser’s book and the approach the author takes in explaining his theory to his readers run completely counter to the ideals of his theory.Iser’s aesthetic response theory contains is based on several points. First, the purpose of the reader is not to attempt to discover the single, hidden meaning within a text. The author backs up his position by providing this explanation:…If the critic’s revelation of the meaning is a loss to the author̷...

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