Silko's Ceremony and the Hermeneutic Circle Essay

2015 Words 9 Pages
Silko's Ceremony and the Hermeneutic Circle

Ceremony is a novel meant to change us. It is a story, which instructs and enlightens, but it is also a tool for relating. It is useful in an extremely practical sense: It teaches us about being connected to our world, about difference and the other. These are only a couple of the possible tangible effects the book has on readers, and truly, the limiting factor in the number of possible uses for Ceremony is simply the number of individuals who read it. One of the individuals who has read Ceremony and outlined the impact the novel had on her is Alanna Kathleen Brown, a professor from the English department at Montana State University, whose essay is entitled "Pulling Silko's Threads
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The concept of hermeneutics was developed by Friedrich Schleiermacher in 1819. It was put forth as a theory of understanding, interpreting. MH Abrams describes the goal of hermeneutics like so: "the aim of Hermeneutics is to establish a general theory of 'understanding' as opposed to explanation" (Abrams, 91). Therefore, much of the emphasis is put on the reader's involvement. Schleiermacher culminated his ideas about hermeneutics in a procedure that he outlined for a reader's understanding of a text. His process was simple: in order to understand the whole, we must understand all of its constituent parts. This seems basic, especially if the fractured linearity of Ceremony or any number of Native American novels is readily accepted by the reader, but oftentimes this is not the case and it is useful to let a reader know that they cannot expect to understand portions of text individually, that it is necessary to see the whole to get the whole picture.

Anyhow, this idea was called the Hermeneutic Circle by another German theorist, Wilhelm Dilthey. This name is quite the misnomer, since, as I will detail in the bulk of this paper, the reader is not simply thrust back into the same place

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