What is it about?

Synopsis In his 2007 book dealing with poetry in English, T. Eagleton sacrifices integrity on the altar of the popularising impulse. His partial analysis of an Auden poem also treated by Michael Riffaterre reveals the advantages of a semiotic approach which can show how images on the textual surface signify indirectly by pointing to an underlying matricial structure. The author's expanded version of Riffaterrian theory accounts for the added complexity conferred by two matrices, each founded on a proposition. In sum, Eagleton's employment of a traditional 'lit-crit' approach-with its prose-based preoccupation with surface details-fails to identify the semiotic structure of the poem as a signifying totality. 6 key words Riffaterre, Eagleton, Auden, indirect signification, matricial structure, interpretant

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Why is it important?

My methodology is based on that of Michael Riffaterre, but shows that a second underlying "matricial" proposition is necessary to complete the underlying semiotic structure of the text. Further, the interpretant of text and intertext – which completes the semiotic triad – has a sociolectic counterpart in the preconceptions brought to the text by the reader. The interpretant, in producing a contrast with this sociolectic context, is able to affect the change in the reader's preconceptions – this change being essential to all modern works of art.


My semiotics-based methodology sweeps away misconceptions stemming from over a century of traditional lit-crit approaches.

Dr John A F Hopkins

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This page is a summary of: Icarus ignored: Riffaterre and Eagleton on Auden’s Musée des Beaux Arts, Semiotica, January 2015, De Gruyter, DOI: 10.1515/sem-2015-0049.
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