The Open Work  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Opera aperta (1962, rev. 1976 - English translation: The Open Work (1989) is a book by Umberto Eco.

In the early 1960s, Eco began seriously developing his ideas on the "open" text and on semiotics, writing many essays on these subjects, and in 1962 he published Opera aperta (translated into English as "The Open Work").

In it, Eco argued that literary texts are fields of meaning, rather than strings of meaning, that they are understood as open, internally dynamic and psychologically engaged fields. Literature which limits one's potential understanding to a single, unequivocal line, the closed text, remains the least rewarding, while texts that are the most active between mind and society and life (open texts) are the most lively and best—although valuation terminology is not his primary area of focus. Eco emphasizes the fact that words do not have meanings that are simply lexical, but rather, they operate in the context of utterance. I. A. Richards and others said as much, but Eco draws out the implications for literature from this idea. He also extended the axis of meaning from the continually deferred meanings of words in an utterance to a play between expectation and fulfilment of meaning. Eco comes to these positions through study of language and from semiotics, rather than from psychology or historical analysis (as did theorists such as Wolfgang Iser, on the one hand, and Hans-Robert Jauss, on the other).




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "The Open Work" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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