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Related: "death of the author" - interconnectedness - text - poststructuralism - literary theory

Theorists and connoisseurs: Daniel Chandler - Gérard Genette

In Georges Bataille any human being is no more than a conduit for communicative process, a channel for ideas which pass through him/her."If, as it appears to me, a book is communication, then the author is only a link among many readings." The author is simply a node on a network, through which ideas pass. [Oct 2006]

"A text is... a multidimensional space in which a variety of writings, none of them original, blend and clash. The text is a tissue of quotations... The writer can only imitate a gesture that is always anterior, never original. His only power is to mix writings, to counter the ones with the others, in such a way as never to rest on any one of them" (Barthes 1977, 146)

Although the notion of intertextuality precedes the technological development of hyper-text, the world wide web was the first medium that promoted non-hierarchical and non-linear way of expression and thinking. Unlike books and documents, hypertext does not have a linear order from the beginning to the end. It is not broken down into the hierarchy of chapters, sections, subsections, etc. This reminds us of the idea of Marshall McLuhan that new media change people's perception of the world, mentality, and way of thinking. While not a unique issue to the web, hypertext in this sense is closely related to the notion of "death of author" and intertextuality in structuralist literary theory. [Nov 2006]


In the work of Roland Barthes, intertextuality is the concept that the meaning of an artistic work does not reside in that work, but in the viewers.

In the work of Julia Kristeva, intertextuality suggests the interdependence of texts, the continual deferment of meaning through and between texts.


Relationship between two or more texts that quote from one another, allude to one another, or otherwise connect. New Testament passages that quote from the Old Testament are one example of intertextuality. Another example is Old Testament books such as Deuteronomy or the prophets that refer to the stories found in Exodus. Whereas a redaction critic would use such intertextuality to argue for a particular order and process of the authorship of the books in question, literary criticism takes a synchronic view that deals with the texts in their final form, as an interconnected body of literature. Some postmodern theorists like to talk about the relationship between "intertextuality" and "hypertextuality" - hypertextuality being the sort of jumping around one does on the world wide web. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intertextuality [Apr 2005]

Intertextuality between Faust and Don Juan

Certainly Faust is a reproduction of Don Juan. ... Like Don Juan, Faust is a demonic figure, but at a higher level. .. --Either/Or, Kierkegaard

Kierkegaard, who had been working up a project on the three great medieval figures of Don Juan, Faust and Ahasuerus (the wandering Jew), abandoned his project, although he later incorporated much of the work he had done into Either/Or

The literary characters that most influenced Kierkegaard were Don Juan (representing pleasure), Faust (doubt) and the Wandering Jew (despair), and that he used characters based on them in his writings. For example, both Don Juan and Faust personify the demonic in Kierkegaard's Either/Or, Part One ..

Intertextuality between The Monk and Clarissa

The relations between the two novels [The Monk and Clarissa] have not been entirely neglected. Mario Praz refers in passing to Antonia and Agnes as ‘unhappy daughters of the ill-starred Clarissa’. Leslie A. Fiedler refers in more general terms to the degeneration of Lovelace into the Gothic hero and to Clarissa as the model for the ‘Persecuted Maiden’ of the Gothic. Harold McAllister devotes a whole dissertation to Clarissa, Justine, and The Monk, concentrating on ‘character-clusters’ such as ‘the male persecutor, the male observer, the female victim, and the female predator’ and their roles in ‘the central drama of all three novels: a drama of self-indulgent sexual aggression committed against an unwilling but helpless victim and witnessed by a good but helpless third party’.


Gérard Genette offers a theoretical framework for the interpretation of such allusions in Palimpsests: Literature in the Second Degree, a taxonomy of what he (confusingly for Anglophone readers) calls hypertextuality [aka intertextuality]: that is, the range of relations between a hypertext, or derivative later text, such as , and its hypotext, or source text, such as Clarissa. There are six main types of hypertextual relationship, according to Genette; the relationship between Clarissa and The Monk is transposition, or ‘[s]erious transformation’, the same general type as the one between the Odyssey and Ulysses. Transposition is always a complex relationship, the product of a number of different operations by which (in Genette’s metaphor) the hypotext has been transformed into the hypertext. --http://journals.mup.man.ac.uk/cgi-bin/pdfdisp//MUPpdf/GOTH/V6I2/060158.pdf [Nov 2006]


Hypertextuality is a postmodern theory of the inter-connectedness of all literary works and their interpretation.

The prefix 'hyper' is derived from the Greek 'above, beyond or oustide'. Hence hypertext has come to describe a text which provides a network of links to other texts that are 'outside, beyond and above itself'. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypertextuality [Nov 2006]


Metatextuality is a form of intertextual discourse in which one text makes critical commentary on another text. This concept is related to Gérard Genette's concept of hypertextuality in which a text changes or expands on the content of another text. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metatextuality [Nov 2006]

Intertextuality in pop culture

Intertextuality is almost omnipresent today in modern popular culture as it resonates with a young audience which is renowned for its cynicism.

Intertextuality occurs frequently in popular media such as television shows, movies, novels and even interactive video games. In these cases, intertextuality is often used to provide depth to the fictional reality portrayed in the medium, such as characters in one television show mentioning characters from another. Fox Television's The O.C. is a perfect example of television using intertextuality, with its frequent references to comic book and movie characters such as Spiderman and Star Wars protagonist Luke Skywalker.

Notable examples of intertexuality include the animated series Futurama, Family Guy, and The Simpsons which are almost entirely dependent on intertextual references as a source of humor. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intertextuality [Oct 2005]

See also: text - popular culture

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