Considering the philosophic intelligence that has set out to discredit it, intentionalism in critical interpretation has shown an uncanny resilience. Beginning perhaps most explicitly with the New Criticism, continuing through the analytic tradition in philosophy, and culminating most recently in deconstructionism, philosophers and literary theorists have kept under sustained attack the notion that authorial intention can provide a guide to interpretation, a criterion of textual meaning, or a standard for the validation of criticism. Yet intentionalist criticism still has avid theoretical defenders and plenty of informal practitioners. The essay that follows, while an exercise in neither such defense nor practice, nevertheless attempts to demonstrate why intentional questions can be expected to be of permanent concern to criticism.
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