Sex and death were not synonymous one with the other in the fourteenth century, so is it OK for students in the twenty-first century to apply this idea to a reading of the Canterbury Tales?
Crikey! That reads like an A level English exam question (perhaps not from this decade, but maybe once upon a time).
What I’m really saying is that Chaucer is dead, and he doesn’t care how we choose to criticise his work. I’m also saying that it’s pretty difficult to separate ourselves from modern criteria for criticising anything.
We’ve been there and seen that. We’ve read the newspaper and magazine reviews, and we’ve watched questions asked and answered on the television. We’ve read the tweets and we’ve caught up with opinions on YouTube.
I don’t know whether this makes us all wiser or more worldly. I don’t know if it increases our capacity for intelligent criticism... possibly not.
The point is that none of it matters.
As a writer, once my work is out in the World, there is absolutely nothing I can do. People will like it or not, understand it, or not, and bring their own agendas to bear when and if they ever choose to deconstruct it... or not.
For what it’s worth, I’ve always felt that the writer’s opinion is irrelevant. The writer writes with all sorts of intentions and motivating factors, but they are never going to tally, completely, with the readers expectations of a good read.
That’s fine with me. As far as I’m concerned, any reader can interpret any of my work any way he chooses. If he disagrees wildly with my intentions then it could be that I did not word them well or profoundly enough, but that might be my fault. It could, of course, be that the reader has misunderstood, but that’s no reason for me to be snippy about it, after all, in whatever ways the reader might fall short of my expectations of him, he has paid for the privilege of doing whatever the hell he likes with the book he has bought.
So, dear reader, I ask nothing of you, and I hope that my words were worth the money it cost you to read them. If not, do feel free not to read my next book, but you can rest assured that I will give it my best shot, and, with a little luck and a lot of hard work, the next one might even be better than this one was.