Reading (literary) texts does not normally pose serious problems in daily life. Normally we know quite well how to deal with them. Most people, in watching a play, reading a novel, or listening to a poem, will hardly wonder at the nature of the event they are involved in . Unproblematic as such everyday forms of handling literary texts may be, they are not so from a theoretical point of view. For one thing, they do not guarantee a full understanding of the works under consideration. In fact the form and function of these texts make them into complex cultural phenomena, the understanding of which requires a long process of experience, producing knowledge about their structure and meaning as well as intuitive concepts and general expectations as to what such texts are and mean. As a result of this (literary) texts have become an object of study from the earliest times onwards. In our time their academic study is undertaken from a number of different vantage points. Generally, these may be divided into either linguistic or literary approaches. Although there has always been a keen sense of linguistic detail in literary studies, from Aristotle onwards, and although linguists have often displayed an attentive responsiveness to literature, the marriage between the two disciplines has not been a very stable one. While structuralism reigned, it seemed to flourish, especially in the works of eminent scholars
First of all, as a symptom of such indeterminacy, one may notice that the old pretences of linguists have worn off. When generative grammar emerged as a potential tool, linguists hardly doubted the merit of their contribution to the field of literary scholarship. For a moment it seemed as if a good number of intricate old problems were going to be solved in an efficient and elegant manner. I think it is fair to say that few linguists still hold such grand pretences. The generative approach soon found itself confronted with qualitatively new problems not foreseen in the earlier stages, which called for continuous repair work, involving so much energy that no attention could be spared to literary matters. Perhaps more important still, a number of other approaches were developed, such as psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics, pragmatics, text linguistics, discourse analysis and ethnography of communication, all of which promised a much closer link with the 'social' aspects of language than generative grammar had ever been able to offer. Trying to cope with all these changes was hard enough in itself, let alone their integration with literary studies. Thus the proliferation of methods and theories within linguistics and the failure of its most powerful model to fulfil its earlier promises has led to internal uncertainty, the perception of which has stimulated literary scholars to go their own way instead of waiting for the linguists to sort out their problems.