Loading...

Intertextuality and Intratextuality in Stephen King's "The Dark Tower" Series

Thesis (M.A.) 2012 91 Pages

American Studies - Literature

Excerpt

Table of Contents

Introduction

Chapter One The Theories of Intertextuality and Intratextuality
1.1 Intertextuality
1.2 Intertextuality in History
1.3 De Saussure’s Influence on the Theory of Intertextuality
1.4 Mikhail Bakhtin and the Development of the Term Intertextuality
1.5 Intertextuality and Roland Barthes’s “The Death of the Author”
1.6 Julia Kristeva and the Coining of the Term
1.7 Gerard Genette and the Concept of Intratextuality

Chapter Two Intertextuality in Stephen King’sTheDark Tower
2.1 Intertextual references to the Epic tradition: Gilgamesh andThe Odyssey
2.2 Intertextual references to Chanson de Roland
2.3 Intertextual references to Arthurian Legends
2.4 Intertextual reference’s to Robert Browning’s “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came”
2.5 Intertextual References toThe Lord of the Rings
2.6 Intertextual References to the Genre of Western
2.7 Intertextual References to the Gothic
2.8 Intertextual References to the Post-Apocalyptic Subgenre

Chapter Three Intratextuality in Stephen King’sThe Dark Tower
3.1 The Stand(1978) andThe Eyes of The Dragon(1987)
3.2‘Salem’s Lot (1975)
3.3 Insomnia(1994)
3.4 Rose Madder(1995)
3.5 DesperationandThe Regulators(1996)
3.6 “The Little Sisters of Eluria” (1998)
3.7 Hearts in Atlantis(1998) andEverything’s Eventual(1997, 2002)
3.8 The Talisman(1984) andBlack House(2001)
3.9 Minor Influences
3.10 The Art of Re-Reading: The Shining(1977),The Dead Zone(1979),Pet Sematary(1983)

Conclusion

Appendix 1-Intertextuality and Intratextuality in Stephen King’sDarkTowerGraph

Appendix 2-Stephen King’s Bibliography

Bibliography

Introduction

Nowadays it is believed that literary works are created from systems and codes established by earlier works. The literary texts, and their authors, are no longer viewed as unique and autonomous entities but as products of pre-existing discourses and texts. Meaning is therefore a product that can never be contained and constrained within a single text. This idea was first given a name by Julia Kristeva’s coinage of the term of intertextuality, which denotes “the various relationships that a given text may have with other texts” (Baldick 128). Nowadays, the term “has come to have almost as many meanings as users, from those faithful to Kristeva’s original vision to those who simply use it as a stylish way of talking about allusion and influence,” enabling other variations and subgenres of such occurrence to emerge (Irwing 227). The most appealing, however, is the idea of intratextuality, which denotes the meaning of a particular text that does not originate within a work itself, but originates in a related work in the same collection. The primary goal of this MA thesis is to present the ideas of intertextuality and its subgenre intratextuality on the basis of Stephen King’s magnum opus The Dark Tower.

Probably the best, or at least the most distinctive, examples of intertextual and intratextual transference come from examining the literary output of a contemporary American writer of horror, suspense and fiction – Stephen King. King was born in 1947 and started writing in his early teens. As of 2011, King wrote and published fifty novels, which were sold in over three hundred fifty million copies. His works were also adapted into a number of movies, TV series and comic books.

For over three decades, Stephen King has been creating worlds that are enthusiastically visited by literally millions of readers. According to Entertainment Weekly, he is the most significant novelist of the second half of the twentieth century. […] His accomplishments in terms of worldwide book sales and motion picture and television miniseries adaptations are, to say at least, extraordinary (Wiater, Golden and Wagner xvii).

King himself considers his literary output as an equivalent of Big Mac with Fries, stating that he has no place in the lofty halls of literature or art. His readers, on the other hand, have dubbed him as one of the greatest writers of purely American fiction of his generation.

Stephen King is a unique type of writer as far as intertextuality and intratextuality are concerned. His literary output may be perceived as a specific multiverse, a cluster of universes derived from different novels, connected to each other. All of King’s stories are interrelated. Characters, settings, and plots cross over from one novel to the next. “King has created -- with a large portion of his audience not realizing it at the time of publication, or even now -- a fully realized cosmology wherein every story and book is somehow connected to every other story and book by the author” (Wiater, Golden and Wagner xiv). Furthermore King’s body of fiction can be broken down by category based on the reality or world in which the novel takes place. Thus one may say that after the establishment of the so called Stephen King’s multiverse, created from his intratextual and intertextual materials, King operates in his own private intratextual space, rarely having to refer to other external materials.

At the center of Stephen King’s multiverse lays his magnum opus- The Dark Tower series, consisting of seven books; The Gunslinger, The Drawing of the Three, The Waste Lands, Wizard and Glass, Wolves of Calla, Song of Susannah and The Dark Tower. In the 1960s, when King was in college, he started working on The Dark Tower tale. Finishing the story took over fifty years. From the very beginning, the series was meant to become one large narrative, similar in scale to J.R.R Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. The Dark Tower series chronicles the adventures of Roland Deschain, the last gunslinger, on an errand to find the Dark Tower, nexus of all the multiverse. “Roland’s world has ‘moved on’. Time speeds up and slows down unpredictably. A night might last ten years or nightfall might begin early in the afternoon. Compass directions shift. Everything is slowly falling apart and at the center of the world’s ills, literally and symbolically, is the Dark Tower […]” (Vincent 2). The Dark Tower was originally supported by Beams powered by magic. However, lacking faith in the stability of the Tower, men replaced them with technology, which became the downfall of both: the Tower and human kind. As a boy Roland receives a vision of the Tower and its collapse, which will cause the destruction of his and every other world and reality. The Crimson King, an evil entity, who intends to collapse the Tower, assembles “Breakers”, people with different mental abilities, able to speed up the destruction of the Beams supporting the Tower.

The Dark Tower is the core of the Stephen King multiverse. As argued by Vincent “The Dark Tower is the nexus of all universes, an axle around which infinite realities rotate. In Stephen King’s universe, The Dark Tower series is the axle around which his myriad fictional realities rotate” (ibid. 196). Seemingly diverse works of King, such as IT (1986), Insomnia (1994), Hearts in Atlantis (1999), The Eyes of the Dragon (1987), The Stand (1978), The Talisman (1983) and many more, are all connected to the series in terms of characters, settings or plots. The tale of gunslinger Roland’s search for the Dark Tower, despite being a single tale, involves dozens of plot twists, hundreds of characters and thousands of settings, all connected to King’s works in one way or another.

This MA thesis examines the usage of the theories of intertextuality and intratextuality in reference to Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series. The author presents the concepts of intertextuality and intratextuality, their history and applications. The thesis examines various books, movies and other sources of intertextual references that can be found in the series. The thesis also gives examples of intratextual references in King’s own literary output.

Chapter One The Theories of Intertextuality and Intratextuality

1.1 Intertextuality

In traditional literary theory it was assumed that when a reader interprets a literary text he or she is trying to derive a meaning only from that particular literary work. Moreover, the uniqueness of texts and authors were strongly emphasized by modern ideologies of authorial individualism, originality, creativity and expressiveness. However, in contemporary literary theory, one may observe a radical change in such ideas. It is now believed that works of literature are created from systems and codes constituted by previous works. The literary texts, and their authors, are no longer viewed as unique and autonomous entities but as products of pre-existing codes, discourses and texts. Meaning is therefore a product that can never be contained and constrained in a single text. This way of understanding literature, often referred to as “the linguistic turn” in humanities, was responsible for the creation of a number of literary theories focused on the interactions between texts (Juvan 33). One of the most important concepts in this area is the notion of intertextuality.

Intertextuality is a difficult term to explain. Julia Kristeva, a Bulgarian-French literary critic who coined the term, presents intertextuality as a reference or evocation between texts (Kristeva 69). But to fully understand a literary term one should study its “structuration” (how the structure came into being) (ibid.). The English word comes from French “intertextualité”. In English the term consists of two segments: “inter”, meaning between, from one to another; and “text”, any form of a written material. Although the term comes from French, the name is, in fact, a neologism of Latin word “intertexto”, meaning “to intermingle”. The relation with the Latin word is extremely important not only for understanding the origins of the name, but also the meaning of intertextuality. The complex relationship between the two words was in great detail presented in Marko Juvan’s History and Poetics of Intertextuality, in which he claims that:

The word intertextus, -a, -um (“woven in, tied in, woven through”) are past passive participles of the verb intertexo (“weave in, place inside, join”) and were in their adjectival forms associated with literature (Arrive 13) […] The abstract noun suffix, ite denotes a characteristic of a phenomenon but also its generalized quality. The prefix inter suggests the linkage of at least two parts, the insinuation of one in the other and their relations, co-independence, and mutual effect. The modified root, textual refers to the text or something related. (Juvan 12-13)

Following Juvan’s train of thoughts, one may conclude that intertextuality, by its natural linguistic logic, should mean “relations between texts”, ”interweaving of texts”, “weaving of one text into another” or “interrelatedness or interaction of texts” (ibid.). Thus, although the term was coined in 1966, the word was in fact present in the history since antiquity.

Although the term “intertextuality” can be described as “the various relationships that a given text may have with other texts” (Baldick 128), the concept of intertextuality is, in fact, difficult to define. Currently intertextuality is a fashionable term, but almost everybody who uses it understands it somewhat differently. Even William Irwin, in his essay Against Interextuality, stated that the term “has come to have almost as many meanings as users, from those faithful to Kristeva’s original vision to those who simply use it as a stylish way of talking about allusion and influence” (Irwing 227). Since 1966, the year of the birth of intertextuality, a number of interpretations and publications on intertextuality appeared, only adding more confusion to the term. Nowadays it is also argued that the systems, codes, and traditions of other forms of art, such as films or paintings, are crucial to the understanding of a literary work, thus they should be included in the theory of intertextuality. That is why the term is often used with reference to movies, music and books, often assimilating the term “allusion”, “an indirect or passing reference to some event, person, place, or artistic work, the nature and relevance of which is not explained by the writer but relies on the reader's familiarity with what is thus mentioned” (Baldick 7).

Although literary critics quoted above thoroughly explain what intertextuality should be, they fail to answer the question what intertextuality is. To fully understand the term one should take into consideration its structuration but also take a closer look on the history and theories that laid a foundation for the theory of intertextuality.

1.2 Intertextuality in History

While the theoretical concept of intertextuality is associated with modernism, the device itself, as was previously mentioned, is not new -- the relationship of texts to other texts has been an abiding concern of literary theorists since antiquity. Reliance on older texts had from past ages been valued in high culture. Marko Juvan in his History and poetics of Intertextuality notes that: “International copying, mystifying, plagiarizing, adapting, reworking, combining, continuing, varying, ironizing, mixing, deforming or deconstructing familiar texts became part and parcel of literature; collecting, commenting, analyzing, interpreting and paraphrasing them became common in other discourses, for example in philosophy, theology and philology” (Juvan 15). Reliance on patterns of exemplary, well-known and successful texts was thus extremely significant in artistic and non-artistic productions. Artists had to base their works on previous texts in order to become successful. The fact that authors based their works on texts from previous generations was accepted and even demanded. History is full of examples of such approach to literary theory. Juvan gives a number of pronouncements in which writers, from ancient times to postmodernism, demonstrate awareness of the existence of the fact that every piece of writing takes into account that which was written before. The list is significantly long, containing works from all over the globe. Some of them will be presented in this thesis.

Probably the oldest intertextual reference comes from the Babylonian culture. The epic of Gilgamesh was canonized as a high genre in the ethical, stylistic and social senses. The epic originated as a series of Sumerian legends and poems concerning the protagonist of the story, Gilgamesh king of Uruk. They date from as early as the Third Dynasty of Ur (2150-2000 BC). The poems were fashioned into epic (known as “Akkadian epic”) much later, most likely in the eighteenth or seventeenth century BC (Juvan 15). Second of the oldest kind of literary work, which for nearly 300 years imitated the past formal stylistic models, was the pictoriographic Chinese lyric poetry between sixth and third century BC. Similarly, the Japanese Noh stage drama, since fourteenth century is regulated by the “iemoto system”, which puts a great emphasis on tradition, deftly stylizing its content on the bases of well-known myth and legends. Among many examples of intertextuality from pre-Islamic Arabia, one may distinguish the “qasida”, a form of lyric poetry with consistent thematic ordering and set wording with a single elaborate meter (ibid.).

In Europe, the most prominent examples of historical intertextuality are, without a doubt, Homer’s epic works Illiad and The Odyssey, in which the author revoked and tied together oral mythological and epic traditions that existed long before him (the so-called “Trojan cycle”). Homer derived from the tradition not only the stories and plots but also metrics and stylistics. Homer is not only a great example of a writer, who drew from previous generations, but also was the source of intertextual material for further generations. His two epics for centuries to follow figured as thesauri of topics, examples, rhetorical figures and comparison (ibid.). Even Romans created their literature by competitively yet respectfully copying Greek models. In this respect, Aeneid, Virgil’s epic poem, may be viewed as an attempt to reproduce Homer’s Illiad (ibid.).

Probably the best example of historical intertextuality comes from the Bible, which, like Homer’s epics, may be viewed as both: the recipient and the donator of intertextual material. Medieval Latin literature, which since late antiquity was as a rule written by monk, priests and clerics and met predominantly religious needs, derived not only from the Bible, but also from the Greek and Latin classics. Medieval epic poems adhered to Homer and Vergil’s meter and style; their narratives, revoked or combined Gospel stories (Juvan 16). Be that as it may, the influence of the Bible extended to later works of art, such as paintings or sculptures that refer to Biblical narratives. Similarly, many literary works were based on Greek and Roman history and mythology.

To summarize, world’s literature written prior to the coinage of the intertextual theory, is full of examples of intertextual material. In fact, as provided examples indicate, the concept of intertextuality, as a relation between two texts, is everpresent in the world’s history of literature and culture.

1.3 De Saussure’s Influence on the Theory of Intertextuality

Literary theory, study of the nature of literature, is directly connected to the establishment of modern linguistics: a discipline which emerged on the basis of the work of Ferdinand de Saussure, a Swiss linguist whose ideas had a great impact on the development of modern linguistics. Although nowadays his ideas are viewed as outdated, he is widely considered as a spiritual father of 20th century linguistics, creating strong foundations for a number of ideas and theories. Although the term intertextuality was coined by Julia Kristeva, her theory was based on combine theories of Ferdinand de Saussure and Mikhail Bakhtin. In this chapter, I would like to present some from a vast number of de Saussure’s theories and concepts, which inspired Kristeva’s definition of intertextuality.

De Saussure’s probably the most influential book Course in General Linguistics which , published posthumously in 1915 by his former students on the basis of notes taken from his lectures, focused on the linguistic sign. Saussure described the sign as a “double entity”, consisting of the signifier, a sign which conveys meaning, and the signified, the concept that a signified denotes (De Saussure 66-67). Grahan Allen in his book Intertextuality, examining the roots of the term, states: “Dividing the sign into parts, Saussure produced a definition in which a sign can be imagined as a two-sided coin combining a signified (concept) and a signifier (sound-image). This notion of the linguistic sign emphasizes that its meaning is non-referential: a sign is not a word’s reference to some object in the world but the combination, conveniently sanctioned, between a signifier and a signified” (Allen 8). Thus in the English language one employ the word “tree” because the signifier of this word is related to a certain concept, not with real life object. In other words when the signifier is a tree, then the mental image of a tree is the signified.

Language can be therefore defined as a system of signs that express ideas. In his Course in General Linguistics, De Saussure , further divides language into two components: “langue” (social, impersonal phenomenon of language as a system of signs) and “parole” (the personal phenomenon of individual utterances of speech). “Signs are arbitrary, possessing meaning not because of a referential function but because of their function within a linguistic system as it exists at any one moment of time” (Allen 8-9). Language is therefore “referred to as the synchronic system of language, relating to the study of a language at only one point in its history, rather than the diachronic system, occurring or changing along with time. Thus when one write or speak, one is producing specific acts of linguistic communication (parole) out of the available synchronic system of language (langue)” (Allen 8). De Saussure thus considers language to be a social product with the speaker being unable to control it. Furthermore, according to de Saussure, language is assimilated without the direct knowledge of the speaker. Speaking is thus a premeditated act, meaning that all methods of communication are derived from choices made within a pre-existing system. Barthes, clarifying the idea of “langue” writes: “It is the social part of language, the individual cannot himself either create or modify it; it is essentially a collective constraint which one must accept in its entirety if one wishes to communicate” (Barthes, 1984: 82).

For de Saussure, the linguistic sign is not only based on a system -- it is also differential . Language works through relations of difference, then, which place signs in opposition to one another. “The sign ‘tree’ has its place in the system of language (langue) because of its position with regard to sets of related sounds and words. Thus writing a sentence ‘The tree is green’ is to select the word ‘tree’ out of a set of related sounds and words and all the particular names of trees, like oak or ash. The placing of words together in sentences involves what is termed the “syntagmatic” (combinatory) axis of language; the selection of certain words out of sets of possible words involves what is termed the “paradigmatic” (selection) axis of language” (Allen 8-9). While syntagmatic relations are possibilities of combination, paradigmatic relations are functional contrasts -- they involve differentiation. The meaning therefore depends on the combination and selection within the differential system of language.

[…] in language there are only differences. Even more important: a difference generally implies positive terms between which the difference is set up; but in language there are only differences without positive terms. Whether we take the signified or the signifier, language has neither ideas nor sounds that existed before the linguistic system, but only conceptual and phonic differences that have issued from the system. (Saussure 120)

As de Saussure observed, signs possess meaning because of their combinatory and associative relation to other signs. We can thus say that no sign possesses a meaning without the reference to other signs. Each sigh exists within a language system. Meaning of a given sign is therefore derived from its similarity to and difference from other signs. This vision of sign, and by analogy of language itself, had a crucial impact on nearly all areas of the human studies in the twentieth century. This revolution in thought can be understood as the origin of the theory of intertextuality.

1.4. Mikhail Bakhtin and the Development of the Term Intertextuality

Although de Saussure with his concept of differential sign laid a foundation for the idea of intertextuality, it is the Russian literary theorist and semiotician Mikhail Mikhailovich Bakhtin, who is considered the originator of the specific view of language which helped others articulate their theories of intertextuality. Since Bakhtin was first introduced to the Europen audience, he has had an immense impact on linguistics, literary theory and criticism, philosophy, sociology and many other disciplines. In his works, Bakhtin takes a different approach to language than de Saussure and is far more concerned with the social contexts within which words are exchanged, often criticizing de Saussure’s work as abstract and objective. As was previously mentioned, major theories of intertextuality were developed on the base of de Saussure’s idea of the differential sign. As all signs are in one way or another differential, they can possess a number of possible relations. As Graham Allen notes: “The linguistic sign is, after de Saussure, a non-unitary, non-stable, relational unit, the understanding of which leads us out into the vast network of relations, of similarity and difference, which constitutes the synchronic system of language.” (Allen 11). As many literary critics after de Saussure have claimed, authors of literary works are not only limited to choose words from a language system, they also pick out and emulate plots, certain aspects of characters, settings and other elements from the system of earlier in the literary tradition. A writer thus works with at least two systems, “those of language in general and of the literary system in particular” (ibid.). Such a point strengthens de Saussure’s claim of the non-referential nature of signs, i.e. that signs deployed in a particular text refer not to the real life objects, but to the literary system from which a given text is developed. In Intertextuality, Allen exemplifies this approach by examining the image of Satan. He argues that if an author presents a character of Satan in their literary work, the reader will most likely have in mind John Milton’s representation of Satan in his Paradise Lost, rather than the notion of the Christian Devil (ibid.). One may thus say that each text generate its meaning not on the basis of a graphic representation of the real world but out of its relation to the literary and cultural systems.

The recognition of the literary sign had a crucial impact on the literary works themselves. In the 20th century, author’s original work no longer possesses meaning but instead is a space possessing potentially limitless number of meanings. A literary work became “a site of words and sentences shadowed by multiple potentialities of meaning, the literary work can now only be understood in a comparative way, the reader moving outwards from the work’s apparent structure into the relations it possesses with other works and other linguistic structures” (Allen 12).

Bakhtin argues against de Saussure’s focus on language as a system (la langue). De Saussure’s decision not to focus on actual speech (parole) is, according to Bakhtin, a fundamental error, since for him language always and only exists in social situations between actual speakers. When one looks at language this way one may find various important phenomena (Allen 2003 , 80). Language is always evaluative, always involved in social ideology. There is no innocent, neutral or objective language as all words have different meaning in different situations. The only site, in which such a world would be neutral, beyond ideology, would be in a dictionary, but dictionaries, as Bakhtin argues, are not where language exists as a social phenomenon. Language is thus “dialogic”; it is always involved in the relations between specific speakers in specific social situations (ibid.). The dialogic work carries on a continual dialogue with other works of literature and other authors. Following this line of though, Barthes argues that no language user creates meaning independently. This means that everything anybody ever says always exists in response to things that have been said before and in anticipation of things that will be said in response. Furthermore, the speaker uses different languages and discourses (different codes of address, different words and registers) when speaking to someone in different social situations. Our words are never simply our own but are dialogic, possessing that what has already been said before us. The term however does not just apply to literature. For Bakhtin, all language - indeed, all thought - appeared dialogic. As a result, all language, and the ideas which language contains and communicates, is dynamic, relational and engaged in a process of endless re-descriptions of the world.

In his essay Discourse in the Novel, Bakhtin adapts the terms “heteroglossia” to describe different varieties of single linguistic code. Bakhtin argues that the relations between different types of speech: characters monologues and dialogues, the speech of a narrator and even the voice of the author himself, all form the power of a novel. Any language stratifies into many voices, for example social dialects, characteristic group behavior, professional jargons, generic languages, languages of generations and age groups, tendentious languages, languages of the authorities, of various circles and of passing fashions. Furthermore, Bakhtin states that all languages can be characterized by their own set of meanings and values. In this sense, no word is neutral. Each statement possesses a certain meaning, regardless of place or time.

Although Bakhtin’s works have had an enormous impact on the whole literary theory, since neither de Saussure nor Bakhtin actually employed the term, most people credit Julia Kristeva, who was influenced by both Bakhtinian and de Saussurean, for coinage of the term. From Saussure, Kristeva takes the theory of sign, with its two components, the signifier and the signified. From Bakhtin, Kristeva takes the idea that language is dialogical; it always, despite the intentions of speakers and authors, expresses a plurality of meanings, as it is characterized by heteroglossia, a plurality of voices behind each word.

1.5 Intertextuality and Roland Barthes’s “The Death of the Author”

Roland Barthes’s 1967 essay “The Death of the Author” presents yet another view on the concept of intertextuality. “Informed by Saussurean linguistics and its theoretical legacy, Barthes announces the death of the author on the basis of a recognition of the relational nature of the word” (Allen 14). In his essay, Barthes argues against traditional literary criticism's practice of taking into consideration the intentions and biography of an author in an interpretation of his texts and instead argues that a literary work and its creator are unrelated. The title of the essay articulates Barthes’s view on authorship most succinctly. The meaning of a given text is not created by its author as the knowledge of author’s biography does not affect the understanding of the text. The role of the author is only to mix pre-existing signs, as writing is essentially the manipulation and transcription of thoughts and ideas already discovered. Furthermore, Barthes traces authorship to the readers, who, during the act of reading, form the meaning of a literary work. It is the reader who brings meaning to a text using their own experiences and knowledge to achieve a new and unique understanding of the words. In other words, Barthes “kills” the traditional author, who claimed authority for himself, and encourages the reader to interpret the text in his own way thus creating an opening for “reader response” theory to emerge.

Barthes also suggests the notion of “discourse” , the idea that within a society exists many different methods of speaking or writing as all human actions and social formations are related to language and can be understood as systems of related elements. Barthes argues that a single piece of utterance does not express a single meaning; rather, “it leads the reader into a network of possible discourses and seems to emanate from a number of possible perspectives” (Allen 14). Certain signs of a given sentence possess a number of cultural and literary connections. In that same essay, Barthes writes:

We know now that a text is not a line of words releasing a single ‘theological’ meaning (the ‘message’ of the Author-God) but a multidimensional space in which a variety of writings, none of them original, blend and clash. The text is a tissue of quotations drawn from the innumerable centres of culture ... 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. (Lodge, Wood 313-317)

Thus the meaning, as Barthes suggests, comes not from the author’s consciousness but rather from the previously established linguistic-cultural systems. The author only arranges the pre-existent possibilities from the language system. Each word the employed by the author in his literary work comes from the language system out of which it was produced. The view of language expressed by Barthes “is what theorists since the period in which his essay was produced have termed intertextual” (Allen 14).

1.6 Julia Kristeva and the Coining of the Term

The French intellectual scene into which Kristeva arrived in the mid-1960s was being transformed by the ongoing critique of Saussurean linguistics (Allen 30). Year 1968 and its political turmoil brought the debate concerning the notions of authorship to a climax.

An inquiry into the role of literature and literary language was crucial to the rise of poststructuralistm. French journal Tel Quel was the primary source of many poststructuralist theories . The journal was influenced by a number of revolutionary writers, such as Jacques Derrida, Roland Barthes, Philippe Sollers and Michel Foucault. As the theories concerning text and textuality were the focus of these theorists’ work, Tel Quel may be viewed as a shared space for many, often contradictory theories.

Although Julia Kristeva is the author of many influential works concerning psychoanalysis, anthropology and feminism, she achieved worldwide fame for her development of the idea of intertextuality. Although she introduced her theory in 1966, the idea of intertextuality has, itself, been borrowed and transformed many times. Kristeva’s coinage of the term represents an attempt to synthesize Ferdinand de Saussure’s study of how signs derive their meaning within the text, with Bakhtin’s examination of the multiple meanings, or “heteroglossia”, in each text and in each word. When we attempt to communicate through speech or writing we produce an instance of language, a parole, which is part of the greater system of language, a language, which we cannot escape. The parole only points to other parole within signifiers, their meaning grounded nowhere, except temporally in the reader, unleashing the signifiers to be relationally combined in infinite ways. In other words, in Kristeva, intertextuality is a term referring to the dialogic nature of literary language. In this respect, literary text should not be viewed as a unique and autonomous entity but as a product of pre-existing codes, discourses and previous text. Intertextuality is therefore, the very condition of signification, both in literature and all language.

Kristeva’s concept centered on the transformation of Saussure’s idea of semiology, or what was increasingly called semiotics.

Semiotics in mid-1960s France argued for its own objectivity by employing Saussurean concepts such as “langue” to stabilize the “signifieds” it studied. Myths, oral cultural traditions, literary texts, indeed any cultural text, can be scientifically analyzed, because at any one moment signifiers exist and function within a synchronic system which provides determinable signifieds for those signifiers. What such an approach needs to avoid, in order to maintain objectivity, is any attention to the human subject who performs the utterance under consideration. It must also evade the fact that signifiers are plural, replete with historical meaning, directed not so much to stable signifieds as to a host of other signifiers (Allen 31).

These theories were the primary source of Kristeva’s inspiration and from which she coined her theory of intertextuality.

1.7 Gerard Genette and the Concept of Intratextuality

Although many works were written about the theory of intertextuality, the second term of this thesis- “intratextuality”, probably due to its rare usage, has very limited array of academic sources. Similarly to intertextuality, intratextuality is a complex term. One can define intratextuality as the meaning that originates not within a work itself, but that originates in a related work in the same collection. Probably the best example of such occurrence can be found in William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience, in which one can find a poem called "The Lamb" and a poem called "The Tiger." Each poem can be read individually. However, when compared to one another, one may notice that they can be treated as one text . The imagery, tempo and even diction of "The Lamb" serves as a sharp contrast to "The Tiger". When the speaker in "The Tiger" asks, "Did He who made the Lamb make Thee?" the meaning of the question may be found in earlier poem, "The Lamb," in which the speaker explains to the lamb that it was made by God.

The theory of intratextuality, as well as other theories derived from the concept of intertextuality, was able to emerge thanks to the works of Gerard Genette, a French literary theorist, and his concept of “trans-textuality”. Genette’s theory was coined as an auxiliary terminology to describe the concept of intertextuality. In Palimpsests: Literature in the Second Degree , Genette, building on Bakhtin and Kristeva, identifies trans-textuality as “all that sets the text in a relationship, whether obvious or concealed, with other text” (Genette 1997a: 1), arguing that it is a more inclusive term than intertextuality.

As a structuralist, Genette believes that the signification of a text can be explained by studying the most basic units of the text and their relation to other texts, as opposed to poststructuralist approach that emphasizes the uncertainty of studying the relation between the signifier and the signified. Thus Genette stresses the importance of examining the way in which signs and texts function in their source- systems, codes and cultural influences.

In his famous trilogy, composed of The Architect: An Introduction, Palimpsests: Literature in the Second Degree, and Paratexts: Thresholds of Interpretation ; Genette produces his famous theory of transtextuality, which “can be translated as a structuralist approach to intertextuality” (Simandan 29). Genette argues that, transtextuality, or textual transcendence, includes transformation, imitation and classification. Thus one may say that “trans-textuality is basically Genette’s version of intertextuality ” (ibid.). Through trans-textuality Genette wanted to show how texts interpreted and understood by their reference to the system from which they were created. Furthermore, Genette subdivides the term into five subcategories: intertextuality, paratextuality, metatextuality, hypertextuality and architextuality; which then allowed further subdivisions to emerge (ibid.).

Genette’s first subdivision of transtextuality is called intertextuality, which, despite sharing a common name with Kristeva’s term, is reduced to “a relationship of co-presence between two texts or among several texts” or “the actual presence of one text within another” (Genette 1992: 1-2). Genette’s intertextuality, which consists of quotation, plagiarism, and allusion, can be understood as the relationship between specific elements of a given texts, that can be found in the text itself. Furthermore, Genette states that any specific element of textuality should be consisted within an easy applicable system.

The second type of trans-textuality is paratextuality, presented in Paratexts: Thresholds of Interpretation. The paratext, according to Genette’s, are all elements at the beginning of a given text, which help readers to understand the text. This concept consists of a peritext and an epitext. The peritext consists of such elements as titles, chapter titles, notes prefaces, dedications, illustrations captions, epigraphs and prefaces. In Genette’s opinion, all of these elements have a great impact on the interpretation of a text. The elements of epitext are all authorial and editorial notes consisted within a literary work, such as in terviews, reviews, publicity announcements, private letters etc. The paratext thus provides the reader with various pragmatic functions which inform the reader when the text was published, who published it, how it should or should not be read etc. Genette further divides paratext into paratexts provided by the author- (autographic paratexts), and paratexts added to the text by someone other than the author, for example editor, translator or publisher (allographic paratexts). The main function of both types of paratext is to instruct the reader how to structure his reading. Genette, by presenting his paratext, reasserting the importance of authorial influence, clearly detaches his work from post-structuralists, and their claim of the lack of authorial intention in the literary work.

The third type of trans-textuality is metatextuality which denotes references of one text on another text. As Genette sates, “it unites a given text to another, of which it speaks without necessarily citing it (without summoning it), in fact sometimes even without naming it” (Genette 1997a: 4). By metatextuality Genette means explicit references, ones that are express in a clear and obvious way, leaving no room for misinterpretation, and implicit, implied references that are not clearly stated but can be recreated from the text.

The fourth type of trans-textuality is hypertextuality, which comes from Genette’s Palimpsests: Literature in the Second Degree. In his essay, Genette states that all texts are hypertextual, which involves “any relationship uniting a text B to an earlier text A, upon which it is grafted in a manner that is not that of commentary” (Genette 1997a: 5). Hypertextuality can be therefore understood as “the relation between a text and a text or genre on which it is based but which it transforms, modifies, elaborates or extends” (Simadan 31). This type of transtextuality includes such elements as parody, spoof, sequel or translation.

[...]

Details

Pages
91
Year
2012
ISBN (eBook)
9783668046528
ISBN (Book)
9783668046535
File size
1 MB
Language
English
Catalog Number
v305875
Institution / College
Warsaw University – English Studies
Grade
5 Polish, 2 German
Tags
Stephen King Dark Tower Intertext Intratext

Author

Previous

Title: Intertextuality and Intratextuality in Stephen King's "The Dark Tower" Series