The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms - Ross Murfin 2018
Implied author: A term coined by American reader-oriented critic Wayne C. Booth in place of the term voice to refer to the unique and pervasive human presence that the reader senses is the driving force behind a literary work and the source of its ethical norms and values. In The Rhetoric of Fiction (1961), Booth distinguished the implied author from the real author, arguing that the implied author is an “ideal, literary, created version” of the real author, “an implicit picture of an author who stands behind the scenes, … always distinct from the ’real man’ — whatever we may take him to be — who creates a superior version of himself, a ’second self,’ as he creates his work.” Booth developed the concept of the implied author partly as a response to the intentional fallacy, enabling critics to acknowledge authorial presence in a text without basing interpretation on the author’s expressed or implied intentions, a practice that New Critics judged erroneous.
Several critics have further developed or adapted the concept of the implied author. For instance, in Story and Discourse (1978), Seymour Chatman treated the implied author as a structural principle of narration and shifted the focus to the reader, arguing that the implied author is “reconstructed by the reader from the narrative”; subsequently, in Coming to Terms (1990), Chatman equated the implied author with “the text itself.” Other critics have questioned the utility of Booth’s concept; Gérard Genette, for instance, found little cause for distinguishing between an implied and real author in most works, arguing in Nouveau discours du récit (Narrative Discourse Revisited) (1983) that “a narrative of fiction is produced fictively by its narrator and actually by its (real) author. No one is toiling away between them.”