I is for… Intertextuality #AtoZChallenge

I is for… Intertextuality (Book)

photo 2

Image taken by me

On the back cover of Intertextuality by Graham Allen (2000) it is written that:

‘No Text has meaning alone.
All texts have meaning in relation to other texts.’

I’ve mentioned before that I sometimes struggle with analysing writing in relation to only that text alone preferring in some cases to better understand context or being very accepting of multiple analysis. Comparison to previous texts I’ve read also plays its part.

This text is an academic one, a study of intertextuality within the context of literary criticism.

It discusses Bahtkin and Dialogism (again), Roland Barthes and the idea of the Death of the Author, feminism, postmodernism and lots of isms and textualities in general.

I think this book will be of interest to my PhD because of its discussion about relations between books. I also wonder whether the idea of the Death of the Author might be interesting to explore more with reference to what happens post publication. We now have unprecedented access to authors of new books and can ask them their meanings and intent – maybe the author is on the rise from the grave? Does this mean we have to zombie follow them and not accept our own creation of meaning? I know that as a writer some of my writing appears subconscious and I then read meaning back into it.

If you have ever been to a psychic you will probably have heard people say that we cling to aspects that relate to us and ignore the bits where they go totally off track. I wonder if this is how we relate to books too.

For example I have seen the quote above a lot recently and it really can feel like this is happening sometimes, that someone is writing out the thoughts in your head. But I suspect that often books have as much that we don’t relate to as that which we do – but the relations are more powerful and longer lasting though.

Another book I need to read properly rather than skim so apologies if I have misrepresented any of the theories – my comments are just rambles at the moment.

If you are a writer what other books do you nod to in your work?
When looking back at the meaning of things you have written do your ideas change over time or stay static?
As a reader do you find yourself making links to other books you’ve read, films and TV series you’ve seen and, of course your own life experiences?

Posted on April 10, 2013, in April A-Z Challenge, Book Reviews, OT/Lecturing/PhD Reviews, PhD and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. I am doing a primarily visual blog, but the idea that works of art in general have meaning in relation to each other is useful/interesting in the visual world as well…we are always working in relation to other works (both current and previous).

    Ruby is participating in the A to Z Challenge
    Ruby Wilbur

    • I totally agree Ruby – think this is what postmodernism is all about – that and that the idea of originality is virtually impossible (if I’ve read what little I have right)(I’ve bought a book of that too I think).
      The introduction does suggest the term is used in non literary ways too.
      Will pop over to your visual blog now – thanks for commenting.

  2. What a fascinating post. This reminded me of Pierre Bayard’s How to Talk about Books You Haven’t Read, not because you were talking about any such thing, but because he also touches on the concept of all texts having meaning in relation to other texts. (Or at least I think he did–it’s been a while since I read the book.)

    As far as the quote goes, I would agree with you that the books that resonate with us, the books that make us feel like the author has siphoned the text right out of our heads, probably also have contain concepts and opinions that our tricksy brains elect to overlook.

    As a writer, I’m not sure I could hope to enumerate the books I’ve given a nod to in my stories. Our magpie minds slurp up a little here, a little there, and after a while we don’t necessarily even remember where certain ideas or stylistic quirks originated.

    Regarding ideas changing or remaining static, hmm. Interesting question. My initial response was “they change,” but on reflection…I need to reflect more on that!

    What a treat to come across such an intelligent, unabashedly intellectual blog. I’m signing up forthwith to follow you via email!

    • Thanks for taking the time to write such a lovely long comment and for the compliment at the end – they didn’t nickname me girly swot at one of my old workplaces for nothing ;o) – I am doing a second challenge all about TV shows too and this is my attempt to get some work on my PhD done so hope you aren’t disappointed when I get all silly and non intellectual again.

      Our brains truly are tricksy and also wonderful – I love the methaphor magpie minds that you used – I get worried about potential plagiarism sometimes because my memory is awful and I might come up with an idea that is from somewhere else. For example there is this kid’s book that I remember but no-one else does and I’m almost tempted to rewrite the story just in case it was a wonderful dream but it is so vivid I must have read it.

      I love the title of the book you mentioned because it is true I haven’t actually read this one yet!!

  3. Oh my – the word ‘intertextual’ takes me rrriiiight on back to high school days and, more specifically, dreaded English exams! Yikes!

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