chapter  5
10 Pages

The Materiality and Ideality of Text: Said and Ricoeur


Said had just one encounter with the work of Paul Ricoeur, in his essay ‘The Text, the World, the Critic’1 (later rewritten as ‘The World, the Text and the Critic’),2 and in this essay Said’s concern is not principally with Ricoeur as such, but with a certain view of textuality of which he holds Ricoeur to be the exemplar. In the fi rst version of his essay, Said writes that ‘There are so many things wrong with [Ricoeur’s] set of ideas that I scarcely know where to begin my attack’,3 a sentence he excised from the revised version. The second version of Said’s essay is generally less vitriolic, although in it Said still clearly perceives a gulf of difference between his position and Ricoeur’s. In this chapter, I fi rst argue that Said’s charge against Ricoeur, that he is an idealising subjectivist, is unfounded. I then go on to propose that there is, nevertheless, a place for ideality in the analysis of what constitutes a text, and that Ricoeur’s account of it is more productive than the mere dismissal of ideality to be found in Said.