RIFFATERRE’S CONCEPTS OF STYLEM AND STYLISTIC CONTEXT IN CONTEMPORARY STYLISTICS
The Miroslav Krleža Lexicographic Institute, Zagreb
SUMMARY: In contemporary stylistics Michael Riffaterre (1924 - 2006), an American literary theoretician of French origin, is known for his attempt to identify particular literary textual attributes by focusing on the reading process. His work, within the framework of semiotic theories of reading as well as within structural stylistics, was viewed as an original step forward whereby, despite depriving the interpretation of the communication of a literary work of its vital element - reader’s competence - he contributed to the elucidation of the manner in which the text as a linguistic creation directs the reader’s attention.
Scrutinizing primarily the demands which the text imposes on the reader in its structural depth while putting the author and the recipient aside, apart from their role of a coder and decoder, Riffaterre opted for an uncomplicated and generalized approach to the literary communication that has become a subject of numerous critical reviews. A number of them referred to the exclusion of the role of readers’ competence, allegiance to the traditional theory of deviation and insufficient recognition of artistic aesthetic character of the literary work.
On the other hand, his contemplations on the so called ideal reader had proved useful and in their wake a whole new approach to the study of literary work developed in France and the USA in the 70’s, the so called Semiotics of Reading.
Keywords: style, stylem, decoder, superior reader, stylistic context, stylistic instrument, micro context, macro context