A central argument in contemporary literary criticism remains to be the role of the author. Many theories approach a text with the intention of completely disregarding the author and solely analyzing the text as it exists. However, there are other theories which see the author as an element of larger consquence. The contribution of the individual to the meaning of a text may alter the affect entirely as Each individual is different, each possesses a unique subjectivity; yet also, paradoxically, each shares a common human nature, (rice and waugh 123).
Subjectivity or the personality added by the author to a work is discussed by Julia Kristeva in the piece, A Question of Subjectivity. In this interview, Kristeva approaches the issue of the subject with respect to psychoanalysis. In her study Kristeva links psychosis to literature throught various channels such as the limits of language, the maternal body and the relationship between suffering and creativity. Each of these links can be applied to the sonnets written by Shakespeare thereby providing insight into the author and the text.
The relationship between psychoanalyisis of the subject and literature may not be one that is obvious to most people. Kristeva explains that literature exists at the limits of language; the moments where language breaks up in phychosis. Therefore the interpretation of ones speech presupposes that you apply yourself to the meaning of what they say. The thoughts of the author then become crucial to the understanding of the text. Discussing the thoughts of the author leads to the process defined by Kristeva as an instability of the identities of linguistic signs, meaning and the speaker.
In Shakespeares sonnet #147 one recognizes his instability as he wavers around sanity and maddness; And frantic mad with evermore unrest; My thoughts and my discourse as madmens are As random from truth vainly expressed: He relates his thoughts and language (discourse) to reflect his state of mind and by doing so, illustrates the role of his own psychosis in his writing. Language therefore cannot function in a world of isolation or as Kristeva explains, no neutral objectivity is possible in descriptions of language at its limits. (p131)
One can probe deeper into the psychosis of the author revealing fundamental motivations that drive the author to the limits of language, to poetry. Kristeva goes into great detail discussing the role of the connection to the maternal body where pleasures, including those from literature are a sort of self-eroticism that is indissociable form the experience of the (m)other. (p134) We witness, what seems to be, a complete regression to the maternal connection in sonnet #143; Whilst I, thy babe, chase thee afar behind; But if thou catch thy hope, turn back to me
And play the mothers part, kiss me, be kind. Shakespeare is relating his relationship with his lover to the relationship with his mother. This link seems to approach the issue of Shakespeares childhood and his deep and basic impulses or the confrontation inside the oedipal triangle between [his] desire for the mother and the process of loss. (p133) Loss and suffering play a significant role, according to Kristeva, in the process of writing, A writer must at one time or another have been in a situation of loss- of ties, of meaning- in order to write.
Shakespeare flaunts his suffering in a number of his sonnets such as sonnet #140, Lest sorrow lend me words, and words express/The Manner of pity-wanting pain. The suffering, as expressed by Shakespeare, relates back to the instablity of language as it is in those moments of instablity that one pushes language to its limits. Kristeva expresses that creativity as well as suffering comprises these moments of instability where language, or the signs of language, or subjectivity are put into process. (p132)