Affective Fallacy

An important principle of New Criticism is the avoidance of what William K. Wimsatt and Monroe C. Beardsley called the Affective Fallacy — the fallacy of confusing a work of literature with its effects on the reader.

To a New Critic, meaning exists in the words of the text, and can therefore be observed objectively. Its emotional effect on actual readers is irrelevant.

Reader-response critics rebelled against Wimsatt and Beardsley, and argued that this "fallacy" is no fallacy at all.


From the Guide to Literary Terms by Jack Lynch.
Please send comments to Jack Lynch.
Note: This guide is still in the early stages of development.
Three question marks mean I have to write more on the subject. Bear with me.