Intertextuality

Intertextuality

The term was coined by the critic Julia Kristeva (1941– ) in her influential 1969 essay on the theories of critic Mikhail Bakhtin: dialogism and carnivalism. Kristeva argues that ‘any text is constructed as a mosaic of quotations; any text is the absorption and transformation of another’ (Moi 37). By this she posited a much wider meaning than the deliberate quotation or imitation of texts (such as Eliot’s pastiche of Andrew Marvell’s ‘To His Coy Mistress’ in The Waste Land), and the cognisant influence of predecessors (both of which could be construed as a kind of intentionality). She also meant that texts are shaped less consciously by an intricate network of outside forces that are hard (if not impossible) to trace, such as the adoption or rejection of literary conventions, and for this reason an author should never be regarded as a text’s sole source. For further reading, Graham Allen’s book provides a good introduction to the varieties of literary intertextuality while Mary Orr’s comprehensive account focuses on the debate’s key thinkers: Kristeva, Roland Barthes (1915–80), Bloom and Gérard Genette (1930– ).

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