9.674 what happens to the figurative?

Humanist (mccarty@phoenix.Princeton.EDU)
Mon, 1 Apr 1996 19:26:25 -0500 (EST)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 9, No. 674.
Center for Electronic Texts in the Humanities (Princeton/Rutgers)
Information at http://www.princeton.edu/~mccarty/humanist/

[1] From: Willard McCarty <Willard.McCarty@utoronto.ca> (17)
Subject: primacy of the figurative

Jim O'Donnell, in his review of R.P.H. Green's edition and translation of
Augustine's <title>de doctrina Christiana</title> (Oxford: Clarendon Press,
1995), notes that

> Most readers have accepted Augustine's assertion that the literal
> sense is prior to the allegorical, but the most unsettling thing
> about the book is the way it really suggests the exact opposite:
> that figurative use of language is natural, and the desire to take
> figurative language literally is a disordered interpretation
> conditioned by seeing texts on a page, where irony and metaphor can
> leak away. Read with that optic, the <i>De Doctrina Christiana</i>
> is a landmark in the history of the naturalization of the written
> word as a bearer of culture. The ease with which we understand
> even the parts we disagree with is a sign of its success, and its
> ability to mislead.

In what direction do the electronic representations of text push us?