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Abstract

In his article "Ambiguity, the Literary, and Close Reading" David G. Brooks approaches the matter of literary ambiguity from two directions: firstly by presenting the question of what we might learn if we look at ambiguity not so much from the angle of the author as that of the reader, a question which may appear obvious and inoffensive on the surface, but which becomes intricate and captivating as Brooks, arguing that literary ambiguity cannot be discussed without attention to the idea of close reading, peels layer upon layer of commonsensical assumptions away from reading practice, to arrive at the point where ambiguity, like knowledge itself, can be seen as an affect of desire, and its resolution not so much a matter of arrival at truth as of exhaustion or relinquishment of pursuit; and secondly by asking what it is that artifice adds to the semantic operation of the literary text, and proposing that one of the most consistent tributaries to ambiguation in the literary text is to be found in the veneer or asemantic cross-current created by what Roman Jakobson has called the "poetic function" of language.

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