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06 JULY 2011

The Preface as Exegesis

"A preface provides a way into understanding a book: by stating its subject and scope, by commenting on techniques employed or themes addressed, or by focussing on a central or contentious issue. Prefacing involves an explicatory introduction to a reading of a work.

Some writers are more prone to prefacing than others. In the last century, three great exponents of the preface have been Graham Greene, Vladimir Nabokov and John Barth. Greene's prefaces are usually succinct, genuinely concerned with aspects of the writing process, and sometimes wryly humorous. ...

The idea of exegesis is not a recent imposition of universities upon creative writing; it is a long–term and also current feature of our overall culture. For almost two thousand years (as long as the word 'exegesis' can be backtracked in its significance) people have asked for explanations that linked written works produced in the culture to main concerns of the culture. Partly this has been a low culture plea to high culture. Partly it has been an element of ongoing high culture debate over contentious issues. 'Tell me further what you mean – analyse and dissect and orientate – so that I can more fully understand and believe you,' the culture has asked of texts on the one hand. But also it has said: 'Tell me further what you mean, so that I can better argue with you.' These are, I think, the two arms of the nature of exegesis."

(Nigel Krauth)

Krauth, N. (2002). "The Preface as Exegesis." TEXT 6(1).

TAGS

Australian universitiesBible • canonical text • commentary • contentious issues • creative writingcritical explanationculturedefinitionsexegesis • explanations • expositionhigh culture • interpretative text • linked written works • low cultureNigel KrauthPhD • preface • scripture • the nature of exegesis • treatise • universities

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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