Gestalt of Meaning in Systematic Interpretation

Social Sciences in China (Chinese Edition)

No.7, 2018


Gestalt of Meaning in Systematic Interpretation



Zhou Xian


Interpretation of the meaning of a literary text has long been a controversial issue in literary theory. The 20th century produced three representative theories: the text as object, authorial intent and reader response. Their methodologies have in common the interpretation of meaning as having a single source. Since literature is a complex cultural system that includes many different factors and the relationships between them, literary theory and criticism relating to the interpretation of meaning and its theoretical discussion should be encouraged to make a methodological shift from monocausal interpretations to interpretations involving complex systems, and thence to realize a transition from a substantialist approach to meaning to meaning construction. For this reason, we can try using the concept of “Gestalt of meaning” on the basis of the principle of Gestalt psychology that “the whole is greater,” taking literary meaning as a system structured by logic and time and exploring the methodology of literary interpretation from the perspective of a complex system, with the aim of achieving the ideal of systematic and coordinated diverse interpretations among the community of literary theory and criticism.