Reading, Choice, and Design
This chapter introduces the goals and methods of the book. The book's aim is to present a series of investigations aimed at illuminating the design of the Iliad and its significance for readers, interpreters, and scholars. The project frames the activity of literary reading as an inchoate repertoire of adaptable cognitive functions that readers deploy provisionally in conjunction with textual indications. The research postulates hypothetical reading functions and deploys them experimentally to evaluate whether and how the poem's indications converge with them. The functions investigated are “common sense” practices that are pertinent to the intelligibility of the Iliad as a story, e.g., character-agents, actions, and the goal of deriving edification. Systematic application of the model discloses substantial convergence between the poem and the postulated reading functions. These convergences suggest that the epic's composition implemented a technical plan to assist comprehension: the poem's design furnishes orientation to the story's direction and themes.
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