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I is for… Intertextuality #AtoZChallenge

I is for… Intertextuality (Book)

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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?

D is for… Dialogism: Bakhtin and his world (Book) #AtoZChallenge

D is for… Dialogism: Bakhtin and his world (Book)

I thought I would use this challenge to remind myself why I had bought a few of the books on my bookshelf. Knowing that I wouldn’t be able to read whole books I decided scan reading and providing an overview of each on my A to Z list would be sufficient for now; providing me with a synopsis I could return to.

I bought Dialogism: Bakhtin and his world by Michael Holquist (New Accents series) after attending a session at BU led by someone from the media school. It sounded interesting, possibly relevant and I remember Bakhtin was one of the theorists who cropped up a few times when I was studying for my OU degree in Literature. I bought this book (originally published in 1990) for my Kindle (2002 edition).

I started scanning and reading and quickly I got lost. I was confused and the words on the page didn’t all seem to make sense when combined. I felt stupid – I believe this is a feeling that will occur again on my PhD journey. Occasionally though there was a glimmer of hope and I was highlighting sentences, sometimes even whole paragraphs that I understood and thought could be useful.

I guess the fear is that is where I could stop – only using that which makes sense – in terms of understanding, and with reference to my worldview. I have to be cautious to push myself further – push myself back. Theorists refer to other theorists and so it goes on. I feel I need to make myself a timeline – distinguish how Bakhtin relates to and differs from Kant, Heidegger and the like (names mentioned in this book). Believe me I’m already lost in a sea of names that sound familiar but that I can’t automatically place.

Anyway back to a very brief synopsis of this book and why I think it might be relevant:

Clearly it refers to the idea of writing (particularly the novel) as being a dialogue and one that is context driven. I can’t tell you how much this links to my distrust of learning literature at school – “just read the words” and then the more satisfying experience at university – “yes it is ok to understand the social, political, historical and personal contexts of when the words were written”. Dialogism also refers to a ‘multiplicity’ of perception – again acceptance that opinions and perception will be different.

The book talks about relations (this is becoming more important to me and the direction I am taking) – between an author and their heroes for one, and even goes as far as referring to novels being able to actively shape cultural history. A quote from the book ‘In dialogism, literature is seen as an activity that plays an important role in defining relations between individuals and society.’ (Location 1692 in the kindle edition).

It mentions intertextuality (which I have another whole book on – see the letter I post to come).

Generally this appears to discuss language and books with less discussion for example about what this all means for the author/writer – that is something that I hope to explore.

And that’s it – all I seem to have understood (?!) at the moment. I think this is a book to come back to when I’ve grown more brain!

How do you best tackle books/articles that you just don’t get on a first read, especially if you think you need to understand them?

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