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Literary Criticism Semiotics & Theory


The Literary Truth-Claim and the Interpretation of Texts

by (author) Mario Valdes

University of Toronto Press
Initial publish date
Dec 1992
Semiotics & Theory, Semantics, Ethics & Moral Philosophy
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    Publish Date
    Dec 1992
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In literary texts writers express their views on a great variety of issues, some of which they take seriously, others of which they treat with levity. Even in those statements to which cultural circumstances assign a transcendent meaning there is a wide range of commitment from marginal to central concern in the discursive context. Mario J. Valdés calls these assertions truth-claims.


Drawing on the works of a wide range of authors, including Proust, Tolstoy, Woolf, Lorca, Solzhenitsyn, and Fowles, Valdés explores the phenomenon of truth-claims from two perspectives. One, textual semantics, deal with the content of a given truth-claim; the other, hermeneutics, is concerned with the reader’s interpretation of the truth-claim. In the reading of the text the subject making the truth-claim is not the author or a collective abstraction but rather an enunciating voice or voices. The subject enacting the truth-claim is the reader in his or her textual encounter with the discourse. Everything that happens in a text is recognizable and ultimately knowable because it is made possible as a world constituted through language by a reader. The subject-matter of truth-claims is therefore not the physical data of the world that corresponds to the statement, but rather the reader’s accessibility and relationship to those data within the lived world of language. 

About the author

Mario J. Vald�s, FRSC is a professor emeritus in the Centre for Comparative Literature and the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Toronto.

Mario Valdes' profile page

Other titles by Mario Valdes