"All worthy work is open to interpretations the author did not intend. Art isn't your pet — it's your kid. It grows up and talks back to you."
"As for our intentions, well, that's all bunk. We may intend our music for one person or another, but who's to say? I can't decide who reads my novel or buys my record. Look what that did for Jonathon Franzen, who snubbed Oprah for liking his book. It's an arrogant, imperialist motive to try to determine who will receive you and who won't."
"The artist usually sets out — or used to — to point a moral and adorn a tale. The tale, however, points the other way, as a rule. Two blankly opposing morals, the artist's and the tale's. Never trust the artist. Trust the tale. The proper function of a critic is to save the tale from the artist who created it."
— D.H. Lawrence
"Book! you lie there; the fact is, you books must know your places. You'll do to give us the bare words and facts, but we come in to supply the thoughts."
"...authors seldom understand what they write. That is why we have critics."
— James Hurst, on being asked what his short story "The Scarlet Ibis" was about.
"The critic on the morning paper said of my first play: "Inept." The critic on the afternoon paper said: "Drivel." Both reviews totally misunderstood the play. The critic on the morning paper said of my second play: "Pretentious." The critic on the afternoon paper said: "Abhorrent." Both reviews totally misunderstood the play. The critic on the morning paper said of my third play: "A Smash Hit!" The critic on the afternoon paper said: "A Triumph!" Both reviews totally misunderstood the play.
"They are now misunderstanding to my advantage. In the arts, that's known as success."
— Jules Feiffer cartoon.
King: I have nothing with this answer, Hamlet; these words are not mine.
"What it comes down to is my interpretation of my work is really immaterial. I'm not really a believer in art or music being institutionalized or put in galleries and stuff like that. I think art is something for the use of the public. It's for the public to interpret it, and to use it almost like a sustenance to life. It's the interpretation of the listener or the viewer which is all-important."
"Rihanna said "People should not take the lyrics too literally. I don't think of it in a sexual way, I'm thinking metaphorically. It's more of a thing to say that people can talk about you, you just have to be that strong person who-" Oh, I'm not even going to dignify that. Yeah, and Let's Get It On is actually a protest song about the Vietnam war!"
"The birth of the reader must be at the cost of the death of the Author."
— Roland Barthes, "The Death of the Author"
"I love it when someone tells ME what goes on in SotS... I find it so educational."
— Martin "Mecron" Cirulis
"The beauty of music is that it's so open to the interpretation of the listener. I've said over and over again that the intent of the writer is so much less important than the interpretation of the listener."
— Michael Stipe, R.E.M.
"Books belong to their readers."
— John Green, often enough that he's started abbreviating it to BBTTR.
"I think that many confuse 'applicability' with 'allegory'; but the one resides in the freedom of the reader, and the other in the purposed domination of the author."
"... What "Birth of a Nation" offers, even more than a vision of history, is a template for the vast, world-embracing capabilities of the cinema. It provided extraordinarily powerful tools for its own refutation.'' The real crime was not Griffith’s, but the world’s: the fact that most viewers knew little about slavery and little about Reconstruction and little about Jim Crow and little about the Klan, and were all too ready to swallow the very worst of the movie without question. They saw only what Griffith wanted to say but not what the movie showed, and, upon seeing what Griffith showed, were ready to take up arms in anger.
— The New Yorker critic Richard Brody about Birth of a Nation, The Worst Thing About “Birth of a Nation” Is How Good It Is
"While you might be right, it doesn't invalidate any of the analyzing being done. Creator's intent doesn't matter that much in such matters. Everyone is free to interpret art as they want."
— A comment in Errant Signal's review of Hotline Miami
"I don't know who wrote this essay, but he obviously doesn't know the first thing about Kurt Vonnegut."
— Dr. Turner on an essay written by Vonnegut, Back to School
"When I left the politicians, I went to the poets; tragic, dithyrambic, and all sorts. And there, I said to myself, you will be detected; now you will find out that you are more ignorant than they are. Accordingly, I took them some of the most elaborate passages in their own writings, and asked what was the meaning of them - thinking that they would teach me something. Will you believe me? I am almost ashamed to speak of this, but still I must say that there is hardly a person present who would not have talked better about their poetry than they did themselves. That showed me in an instant that not by wisdom do poets write poetry, but by a sort of genius and inspiration; they are like diviners or soothsayers who also say many fine things, but do not understand the meaning of them."
— Plato, Apology of Socrates