Interrogating the text from the wrong perspective

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Synonyms:
See also: resistant reading, authorial intent
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In September 2004, Anne Rice posted a reply on Amazon to critics of her book Blood Canticle, in which she rejected all negative reviews.[1]

Many fans found Rice's response intemperate, jargonistic, and disconcerting, leading to amusing Amazon replies, professional author and editor commentary, and a Fandom Wank post which led to seven pages of comments and an number of icons. The New York Times wrote about it under the title Fan power takes on new meaning.

One line in particular — "interrogating the text from the wrong perspective" — is now a favorite catchphrase on Fandom Wank and elsewhere.[2][3]

Generally, "interrogating a text" is a method of critical reading which can help a reader to better understand the author's purpose.

It is now used ironically by fans to mock someone, either the original author of the text using authorial intent to trump what actually appears on the page, or another reader who assumes that there can be only one "correct" interpretation of the text. The text (fanfic or published writing) in question is usually problematic or badly written, and the mocked individual may be the lone defender.

Note: the actual quote is: "interrogating this text from the wrong perspective."

For a similar 2006 post by Laurell K. Hamilton, see Dear Negative Reader.

The Text

Fandom Wank posted: "Amazon.com seems to have deleted the Anne Obrien Rice review (and the crop of reviews that came after it). Fortunately, some things which are posted on the internet have a way of being preserved forever." [4]

One fan called it "a paragraph that never ends." [5]

From the Author to the Some of the Negative Voices Here, September 6, 2004 Seldom do I really answer those who criticize my work. In fact, the entire development of my career has been fueled by my ability to ignore denigrating and trivializing criticism as I realize my dreams and my goals. However there is something compelling about Amazon's willingness to publish just about anything, and the sheer outrageous stupidity of many things you've said here that actually touches my proletarian and Democratic soul. Also I use and enjoy Amazon and I do read the reviews of other people's books in many fields. In sum, I believe in what happens here. And so, I speak. First off, let me say that this is addressed only to some of you, who have posted outrageously negative comments here, and not to all. You are interrogating this text from the wrong perspective. Indeed, you aren't even reading it. You are projecting your own limitations on it. And you are giving a whole new meaning to the words "wide readership." And you have strained my Dickensean principles to the max. I'm justifiably proud of being read by intellectual giants and waitresses in trailer parks,in fact, I love it, but who in the world are you? Now to the book. Allow me to point out: nowhere in this text are you told that this is the last of the chronicles, nowhere are you promised curtain calls or a finale, nowhere are you told there will be a wrap-up of all the earlier material. The text tells you exactly what to expect. And it warns you specifically that if you did not enjoy Memnoch the Devil, you may not enjoy this book. This book is by and about a hero whom many of you have already rejected. And he tells you that you are likely to reject him again. And this book is most certainly written -- every word of it -- by me. If and when I can't write a book on my own, you'll know about it. And no, I have no intention of allowing any editor ever to distort, cut, or otherwise mutilate sentences that I have edited and re-edited, and organized and polished myself. I fought a great battle to achieve a status where I did not have to put up with editors making demands on me, and I will never relinquish that status. For me, novel writing is a virtuoso performance. It is not a collaborative art. Back to the novel itself: the character who tells the tale is my Lestat. I was with him more closely than I have ever been in this novel; his voice was as powerful for me as I've ever heard it. I experienced break through after break through as I walked with him, moved with him, saw through his eyes. What I ask of Lestat, Lestat unfailingly gives. For me, three hunting scenes, two which take place in hotels -- the lone woman waiting for the hit man, the slaughter at the pimp's party -- and the late night foray into the slums --stand with any similar scenes in all of the chronicles. They can be read aloud without a single hitch. Every word is in perfect place. The short chapter in which Lestat describes his love for Rowan Mayfair was for me a totally realized poem. There are other such scenes in this book. You don't get all this? Fine. But I experienced an intimacy with the character in those scenes that shattered all prior restraints, and when one is writing one does have to continuously and courageously fight a destructive tendency to inhibition and restraint. Getting really close to the subject matter is the achievement of only great art. Now, if it doesn't appeal to you, fine. You don't enjoy it? Read somebody else. But your stupid arrogant assumptions about me and what I am doing are slander. And you have used this site as if it were a public urinal to publish falsehood and lies. I'll never challenge your democratic freedom to do so, and yes, I'm answering you, but for what it's worth, be assured of the utter contempt I feel for you, especially those of you who post anonymously (and perhaps repeatedly?) and how glad I am that this book is the last one in a series that has invited your hateful and ugly responses. Now, to return to the narrative in question: Lestat's wanting to be a saint is a vision larded through and through with his characteristic vanity. It connects perfectly with his earlier ambitions to be an actor in Paris, a rock star in the modern age. If you can't see that, you aren't reading my work. In his conversation with the Pope he makes observations on the times which are in continuity with his observations on the late twentieth century in The Vampire Lestat, and in continuity with Marius' observations in that book and later in Queen of the Damned. The state of the world has always been an important theme in the chronicles. Lestat's comments matter. Every word he speaks is part of the achievement of this book. That Lestat renounced this saintly ambition within a matter of pages is plain enough for you to see. That he reverts to his old self is obvious, and that he intends to complete the tale of Blackwood Farm is also quite clear. There are many other themes and patterns in this work that I might mention -- the interplay between St.Juan Diago and Lestat, the invisible creature who doesn't "exist" in the eyes of the world is a case in point. There is also the theme of the snare of Blackwood Farm, the place where a human existence becomes so beguiling that Lestat relinquishes his power as if to a spell. The entire relationship between Lestat and Uncle Julien is carefully worked out. But I leave it to readers to discover how this complex and intricate novel establishes itself within a unique, if not unrivalled series of book. There are things to be said. And there is pleasure to be had. And readers will say wonderful things about Blood Canticle and they already are. There are readers out there and plenty of them who cherish the individuality of each of the chronicles which you so flippantly condemn. They can and do talk circles around you. And I am warmed by their response. Their letters, the papers they write in school, our face to face exchanges on the road -- these things sustain me when I read the utter trash that you post. But I feel I have said enough. If this reaches one reader who is curious about my work and shocked by the ugly reviews here, I've served my goals. And Yo, you dude, the slang police! Lestat talks like I do. He always has and he always will. You really wouldn't much like being around either one of us. And you don't have to be. If any of you want to say anything about all this by all means Email me at Anneobrienrice@mac.com. And if you want your money back for the book, send it to [address redacted]. I'm not a coward about my real name or where I live. And yes, the Chronicles are no more! Thank God! [6]

Fan Reaction

one of the icons generated by the fandom wank discussions. the text reads: due to technical difficulties and a severe lack of space, Anne Rice's ego will not be appearing in this icon. Icon creator: darkwitch666
another icon from the fandom wank discussion. The text is a quote from Anne Rice which was the subject of much mockery in fandom: you are interrogating the text from the wrong perspective. icon creator: sailoreagle

Inspired Fanworks

Further Reading: Fans Regarding "Interrogating the text from the wrong perspective"

Further Reading: Fan Reviews

Further Reading: Industry and Journalism

References

  1. In particular, she told the "negative voices" that they were interrogating the text from the wrong perspective, that they have used this site as if it were a public urinal to publish falsehood and lies, and I fought a great battle to achieve a status where I did not have to put up with editors making demands on me, and I will never relinquish that status. "From the Author to the Some of the Negative Voices Here" full text copy, accessed 2010-11-23
  2. Interrogating the text from the wrong perspective. Fandom Wank Wiki. (Accessed 24 November 2010)
  3. A July 31, 2012 Google search for the phrase gave 15,400 results.
  4. also posted in full in many other places on the internet
  5. To quote rhiannonhero from LJ: "Anne Rice wouldn't last a day in fandom, yo.", page 1, WebCite September 20, 2004
  6. To quote rhiannonhero from LJ: "Anne Rice wouldn't last a day in fandom, yo.", Archived version, posted September 20, 2004