Distinctions between a person and an author

Reader Response: What is an Author?

What distinctions does Foucault make between a person and an author?

            Foucault assumes an author to be not just an individual, as is thought, but to him, an author is an “author function.”  The “author function” is not the writer who is known by their name, independent of the work of writing itself. An author is the “literal name” or proper name associated with the work itself. A writer can be any person who produces the work of the author. For instance, an article or a picture anonymously placed on the front page of a newspaper can have a writer, but he is not the author of the work itself. A writer has no authority over his work as he is not the author. The author produces work so that others can interpret it. In the same case, another example is that the signatory of a letter is not the author of the letter. The individual who produces the contents of the letter is the author of the letter. Every work of writing provided by a writer contains a manifestation of the author within it.Writers are existent outside the text they write while authors exist in their text and the writer’s interpretation of their writing. While an author is an “author function,” a person is a subject, defined as an entity that is capable of making their own choices on how to act. In other words, a person is an entity or subject that is self-aware. Thus, according to Foucault’s description, an author is an “author function” while a person is a subject or entity.

What are some of the compelling ideas, and what makes them speak to you?

            Some of the ideas by Foucault that are compelling and speak to me are as follows. In introducing the discourses and their historical origins, it is compelling that they should get studied following its existence modes. This gets justified by the fact that the discourses vary from one culture to the next in terms of the mode of attribution, valorization, appropriation, and circulation. This speaks to me because of the fact that diversity in different cultures gets respected when analyzing the discourses.  Such analysis would later lead to the reexamination of the privileges that the subject gets to enjoy. In analyzing an author’s work, the subject’srole and the character get called back with the person interpreting the work, having set aside the references that are psychological and biographical. This clearly speaks of a balance making the subject a function of a discourse that is variable. These ideas are compelling to me as they speak of a transformation of the subject from how they were viewed traditionally to becoming part of the system that set them apart.

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