It will useful to begin by stating the obvious. The literary text
is, inescapably, built from two essential materials: language, and the world that language creates in the mind of the reader. Of course, to encompass the creative process from both ‘ends’, we should say that the creative writer creates a world which he or she attempts to express through language; the reader reads that language, and creates (or envisions) a world in response. It bears clarifying that these two worlds are extremely unlikely to be the same; that is part of the beauty and mystery of the process. And, of course, the worlds created will vary from reader to reader, even though the language from which they are built is identical. This is why reading is a performance; no two readings are ever the same.
Reading is, inevitably, an act of rewriting. Communication is taking place (as stylistics terms it, a
), involving the creative writer and the reader, who are (usually) unknown to one another, and not in direct face-to-face contact. The situation is portrayed (by Rimmon-Kenan 1986; see also Booth 1983) as follows:
Real author – implied author – narrator – (narratee) – implied reader – real reader