Authorial Audience in Paratext and the Text Itself

Paratext, as we discussed in class, consists of contents other than the main text created by editors, printers, and publishers.  Each example of cover art for Homer’s “The Iliad” gave editions a certain context and would presumably appeal to different audiences.

Each story itself, without its paratext, has an authorial audience, or a group of people who the author intends the story to be read by. A narrator intentionally constructs the lens through which they tell their story, and a writer’s perception of their audience dictates the content that he or she includes.

For example, the book, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” by Mark Haddon, is told through the lens of Christopher, a boy who has an autistic spectrum disorder. He is self-conscious about the pre-existing beliefs and biases that people have about those with special needs. His introspection and elucidation of his experiences, two skills usually not attributed to autistic individuals, disproves peoples’ expectations of him as unintelligent, unobservant, or insensitive. His audience, therefore, becomes  people who are uninformed about and biased towards his disorder. The intention of the author thereby is to educate them.

With this authorial audience intentionally imbedded in the text, I imagine that it would be incredibly frustrating for an author if the cover art wasn’t an appropriate representation. I wonder if the wrong cover could undo the carefully constructed intended audience due to the fact that we are so affected by the visual quality of something. Below is the cover art for “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”:

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