The concept of ‘surface reading,’ first broached by Sharon Marcus in her book of 2007, Between Women: Friendship, Desire, and Marriage in Victorian England, resurfaces more vigorously in the special issue of the journal, Representations, co-edited with her erstwhile colleague, Stephen Best. In the polemic introduction, which has garnered incredible critical attention leading to nearly a thousand citation within few years of its publication, the editors take issue with the Marxian, Freudian or deconstructive model of literary interpretation which privileges the hidden meaning of a text. This mode of reading often called symptomatic reading, close reading or what Ricœur popularized as hermeneutics of suspicion; was canonized by Fredric Jameson in his Political Unconscious, where he challenges critics to look for “a latent meaning behind a manifest one” (Williams). However, surface reading as proposed by Best and Marcus, wishes to shift readers’ attention away from the militant approach of symptomatic reading by redirecting critics to attend to “what is evident, perceptible, and apprehensible in a text” (Marcus and Best 9).

Published by The Muse: A Journal of English and Literary Studies, University of Nigeria, Nsukka

No. 47

August, 2019

Pp. 41-52

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