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INTERTEXTUALITY: ORIGINS AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE CONCEPT

Author(s): María Jesús Martínez Alfaro


Source: Atlantis, Vol. 18, No. 1/2 (Junio - Diciembre 1996), pp. 268-285
Published by: AEDEAN: Asociación española de estudios anglo-americanos
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ATLANTISXVIII (1-2) 1996

INTERTEXTUALITY:
ORIGINS AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE CONCEPT*

Alfaro
MaríaJesúsMartínez
de Zaragoza
Universidad

Theanalysisoftheconceptofintertextual outinthisessaybeginswitha surveyof


itycarried
thevariouswaysin whichthesubjectappearsbeforeKristeva'sintroductionofthetermas
such.Thenitconcentrates to the
on Bakhtin'sandKristeva'sroleas thefirstcontributors
developmentofa theory Thedetailedsudyofthewidevariety
of intertextuality. ofperspec-
tivesfromwhichthephenomenon relevance
anditsincreasing havebeenapproached bylater
thelastpartoftheessay.
constitutes
critics

1. INTRODUCTION
as a termwasfirst
Intertextuality usedinJuliaKristeva's "Word,DialogueandNovel"
(1966) and then in "The Bounded Text" (1966-67),essays wroteshortly
she afterarriving
inParisfrom hernativeBulgaria.2 Theconcept thatsheinitiated
ofintertextuality proposes
thetextas a dynamicsitein whichrelational processesand practicesare thefocusof
analysisinstead ofstaticstructures andproducts. The"literaryword",shewrites in"Word,
Dialogue,andNovel",is "anintersection oftextualsurfaces ratherthana point(a fixed
meaning),as a dialogueamongseveralwritings" (1980, 65). DevelopingBakhtin's
spatializationofliterary language, shearguesthat"eachword(text)is an inter sectionof
otherwords(texts)whereatleastoneotherword(text)canbe read"(1980,66).
Therearealwaysotherwordsina word,othertextsin a text.Theconceptofintertex-
tualityrequires,therefore, thatwe understand textsnotas self-containedsystems butas
differential
andhistorical, as tracesandtracings ofotherness,sincetheyareshapedbythe
repetitionand transformation of othertextualstructures. RejectingtheNew Critical
principleoftextual autonomy, thetheory insiststhata textcannotexistas
ofintertextuality
whole,andso,thatitdoesnotfunction
a self-sufficient as a closedsystem.
Fromthisinitialapproach, therehaveappeareda widerangeof attitudes towards the
conceptofintertextuality andwhatit implies,to suchan extentthatit is practically im-
possibletodeal withitwithout considering otherrelatedsubjectsor without takinginto
accountthevariouscontributions madebya largenumber critics.One of the
of literary
mostimmediate consequences ofsucha proliferationofintertextual hasbeenthe
theories
progressive dissolution ofthetextas a coherent andself-contained unitofmeaning, which
has led,in turn, to a shiftofemphasisfromtheindividual texttothewayin whichtexts
relatetooneanother.

1Theresearch of
ofthispaperhasbeenfinanced
outforthewriting
carried bytheSpanishMinistry
EducationandScience(DGICYT,PS94-0057).
2InDesirein
Language,"Word,DialogueandNovel"is datedin 1966and"TheBoundedText"in
volumeofessaysRecherches
1966-67;bothessaysappearedinherfirst pourunesémanalysein
1969.

268
ORIGINS
INTERTEXTUALITY: ANDDEVELOPMENT
OFTHECONCEPT 269

Thoughintertextuality as a termappearedsomethreedecadesago, and thetwentieth


century hasproved tobe a periodespecially inclined to itculturally, intertextualityis byno
meansa time-bound feature: thephenomenon, insomeform, is atleastas old as recorded
humansociety(Worton andStill1990,2). Unsurprisingly, therefore, we canfindtheories
ofintertextuality wherever therehas beendiscourseabouttexts,fromtheclassics,like
Plato,Aristotle, HoraceandLonginus, to Bakhtin, Kristevaandothertwentieth-century
theorists suchas Genette, Barthes, DerridaandRiffaterre, amongothers.
Goingbacktotheclassicsandbeginning withPlato,itmustbe saidthatin spiteofhis
opposition topoetry on moral,andhencepolitical, grounds, certain aspectsofhistheory
havemuchin commonwithsomemodern to
approaches intertextuality. Bakhtinhimself
locatesin theSocraticdialoguesoneoftheearliestforms ofwhathe terms variouslythe
novel,heteroglossia, dialogism- whatKristevawill christen intertextuality.The dia-
logues, Plato's are
typicalcreation, usuallymeandering and inconclusive discussions
lackingoverallunityandcharacterized bytheirdigressive andplayful tone.Thereis am-
bivalencenotonlyin thediversity ofideologiesevoked,butalso in thecentral image of
Socrates, the wise fool, sometimes sympathetic or affectionate, sometimes ironic oreven
savagely satirical. This serious truth-seeking by means of a plurality of voices obviously
recallswhatBakhtinwillcelebratein thedialogicnovel.In additionto theformof the
Socraticdialogue,intertextual relations arehighlighted inotheraspectsof Plato'stheory,
suchas hisnotion oftextsas subliminal purveyors ofideologythatcaninfluence andalter
thesubject, as wellas inhisviewofimitation. Neither Platonic norAristotelian imitation is
tobe understood as imitation ofnature. In thecase ofPlato,the"poet"alwayscopiesan
earlieractofcreation, whichis itself already a copy.ForAristotle, dramatic creation is the
reduction, andhenceintensification, ofa massoftextsknowntothepoetandprobably to
theaudienceas well.Thesetextsvaryfromotherwritten worksof literature to theoral
tradition of myths, stockcharacters or social codes of conduct.ThoughBakhtinand
Kristeva sawAristotelian logicas relatedto themonologicpole of discoursedue to its
emphasison unifiedanduniversal truths, latercriticshavearguedthattheAristotelian
account ofcomposition as drawing from a variety ofsourcescanbe considered closetothe
notions ofpolyphony anddialogism (Worton andStill1990,4).
IfAristotle holdsthatwe learnthrough imitating othersandthatourinstinct toenjoy
worksofimitation is aninborn instinct, bothCiceroandQuintilian willemphasize lateron
thatimitation is notonlya meansofforging one's discoursebutalso a consciouslyin-
tertextual practice thatcontributes tothedefinition oftheindividual. Forthem, imitation is
notrepetition butthecompletion ofan actofinterpretation. Thus,imitation as theory and
practice presupposes a virtual simultaneity andidentification ofreading andwriting, butit
alsoimpliesanddependsupona processoftransformation. Present literarypractices have
produced evencopieswithout anoriginal (Baudrillard's notion ofsimulacra), thatunderline
theproblematic relationship between physical andsemiotic reality. However, initsearlier
phase, imitation presupposes reference toa pre-existent realitywhich is concrete as wellas
textual. In anycase, thestylistic exerciseof imitation revealstheidea of proliferation,
variation, regeneration, whichis a central feature oflanguage.
TheMiddleAges,withtheir multi-levelled interpretation oftexts,also showa similar
beliefinthepossibility toexpandthemeanings ofa work, evenifsuchmeanings shouldfit
intolimited andpredetermined categories. Churchfathers andmedievaltheologians made
current theview that the created world in its radiant order and hierarchy should be regarded
as God's symbolic book.If thiswas true,theobjectswhichcomposedtheworldwerea
kindofdictionary ofGod'smeanings. Thus,whenGod himself wrotea verbalbook(the
Bible) the words in it pointed, at a literal level, to the objects in His otherbook,theBook
ofNature,but,in addition, thethingssignified bythosewordshad a spiritual senseas

ATLANTIS XVIII (1-2) 1996


270 María Martínez
Jesús Alfaro

well,sincetheyhadbeeninvested withGod's meanings. Somehow,theinterpretation of


theBiblealready depended onanintertextual practiceand,at a timeinwhichliterature was
subordinated toTheology, whatwas trueofreligioustextswas also madeextensible to
secularones.All literary workswereseenas goingbacktotheBibleandall couldbe read
likeit,a viewthatcanbe regarded as a medieval version ofwhatcontemporary authors like
Borgeshaveconceived as theGreatBookofLiterature andthecircular memory ofreading.
IfGod's twoBookswereintended tohavemorethanonesense,itwasjustnatural for
individual writers to disregard originality andtotryandemulateGod's technique instead.
YetitwasRenaissance literature
thatshowed, perhaps forthefirst timeinWestern culture,
a consciousawareness ofdiscourse as open,unfinished, andsubjecttoan infinite number
ofinterpretations. Thetextual pastis alwayspresent through quotations orallusionsinthe
workofsuchwriters as Bacon,Shakespeare, Montaigne, Ronsard, Du Bellay,etc.What
theseauthors perceive is theglobality andinfinitepotentiality oftheculture in whichtheir
owndiscourses areinscribed, rather thantheirdebtto previouswriters, whosemeritis
seento lie in theirpowerofexpression andnotin anymonopoly (orevenoriginality) of
thought. the
Accordingly, way in which such writers deal with the work of preceding
authorsis based on theirbeliefthattheirpossibilitiesof imitation, understood as
interpretation and re-writing of the Urtext,are limitless.Only by multiplying and
fragmenting his/hermodelscantheindividual writer assertandmaintain his/herindepen-
dence.Thisis thetheory proposed byMontaigne, forinstance. He believedthatthe"self
is tobe foundina distancing ofthereading andwriting subjectfrom theanterior "other" (a
viewmuchin consonancewiththeBloómianconceptof "anxietyof influence")and
defends a sortofboastful forgetfulness as thebestmeansofescapingthetyranny ofpast
masters (Worton andStill1990,7-9).
Thewriter's efforts todetachhim/herself from theworkofpreviousauthors as wellas
to proclaimhis/her owncreativespacereceiveda newimpulsefromthemid-eighteenth
century onwards. But,in contrast withthelackofinterest in originality that,as we have
seen,dominated theliterary worldduringtheclassicalperiod,theMiddleAges andthe
Renaissance, theeighteenth century brought withita revaluation oforiginality as theonly
truesignofanauthor's genius.It was then that theconcept of influence arose, thus bearing
from theverybeginning theseedsofa methodology relatedto,butultimately different from
thatof intertextuality. Froman intertextual perspective, thereis no wayof considering
originalityas a trait
tobe cherished byeither authorsorreaders. T. S. Eliotwasperhaps the
firsttostatethefactthatthemostindividual partsof an author'sworkmaybe thosein
whichhis/her ancestorsare morevigorously present(1971, 784). Whilethenotionof
tradition hadquiteoftenledtointerpreting an author'sworkinthelightofthosethathad
preceded it,itwasalsoEliot'sinnovation toassertthatinfluence movesintwodirections:
whenstudying a workonemustconsider whathascomebefore it,butonemustequallybe
awareofthefactthattheworkofthedeadpoetschangesandenriches itsmeaning in the
lightofwhathasbeenwritten bylaterauthors. In spiteofhisundeniable influence on the
ideasoftheNew Criticism, T. S. Eliot,an outstanding figurein thecontext ofmodernist
poetry, qualifiedin thiswaytheNew Critics'viewoftheworkofartas a self-sufficient
whole,a completesystembasedon therelation betweenimages,rhythm, sounds,etc.,
whichdetermine itsstructure.Suchan approach, whichgoesbacktotheromantics andis
related totheideasexpounded bySymbolism andModernism, exemplifies theposition that
latertheories ofintertextualityhavetriedtoundermine. Itcantherefore be saidthatEliot's
quasi-intertextual ideasaboutthesimultaneity ofall worksof literature andtheperpetual
processofre-adjusting therelations amongthemaresurprisingly up-to-date.
In thelatetwentieth century,temporally sequential habitsofthinking andreading have
beenparticularly questioned. Robert Darnton hascontended that"weconstantly needtobe

ATLANTISXVIII (1-2) 1996


ORIGINSAND DEVELOPMENTOF THE CONCEPT
INTERTEXTUALJTY: 27 1

shakenoutofa falsesenseoffamiliarity withthepast,tobe administered dosesofculture


shock"(in Kiely1993,19). Butwe also needto be shakenout of a falsesense of our
abilitytosee thepast"as itwas". Accordingly, Borgespointsoutthat"thepresenthas
something hardandrigidaboutit.Butas tothepast,we arechanging itall thetime"(in
Kiely1993,17).In thissense,thecontemporary preoccupation withinter textuality tendsto
question the usefulness of previous critical narratives of unified progression, in order to
suggest, instead,a viewof literary worksas crowdedwithlayeredimagesof multiple
reflections andunexpected relationships. RobertKiely,forinstance,sees postmodern
literatureas engagedin"aneffort torupture themyth ofa coherent tradition... It maybe
perfectlyobvious(andeasytoprove)thatBeckett learned from DickensandJoyce. Butthis
does notcontradict thefactthatBeckettteachesus (perhapsforcesus) toreadorreread
DickensandevenMelvilleinparticular ways"(1993,19).
Whileall authors re-writetheworkofpredecessors, manycontemporary writers con-
sciouslyimitate, quote, plagiarize,parody ... extensively. As Heinrich F. Plett (1991, 27)
putsit,ré-écriture dominates écritureintwentieth-century literature:theimageforwriting
haschangedfromoriginal inscription toparallelscript, andwriters thinkless of writing
originallyand more of re-writing. Even if,as we have said, intertextualityis bynomeansa
time-bound feature, itis obviousthatcertain cultural periodsinclinetoitmòrethanothers
and thatour century has alreadywitnessedtwo such phases.In the modernist era,
intertextualityis in
apparent every section of culture: literature (Eliot,Joyce), art (Picasso,
Ernst),music(Stravinsky, Mahler),photography (Heartfield, Haussmann), etc.,evenifit
in
is interpreteddifferent ways. Postmodernism shows an increase of this tendency which
nowincludes films(e.g.WoodyAllen'sPlayitAgain,Sam) andarchitecture (e.g. Charles
Moore's Piazzad'Italia, New Orleans) (Plett 1991, 26). Riskingsome degree of
oversimplification, onecouldsaythatthepretexts of themodernist workarenormative
(thesepretexts come from a wide of
range epochs and cultures but the privilegedonesare
alwaysthecanonized andclassicaltexts). Thepostmodernist work,bycontrast, has as its
veryaimthelevelling downofall traditional distinctions between highandlow:pastand
present, classicand pop,artand commerce, theyall are reducedto thesame statusof
disposable materials. Anyway, theproduction ofartandliterature during ourcentury has
becomean act of creationbased on a re-cycling of previouslyexistingworks.This
development hasnotoccurred ina theoretical vacuum;ithasactually beenaccompanied by
a particular theory legitimizing and re-defining the status of textsand their producers: the
theory ofintertextuality. Thus,thetypically NewCritical textualism oftheearlytwentieth
century, and the close readings which showed tensions and multiplicity reconciled within
thesingletext,havebeensucceededbyan approach whichexpandscriticism beyondthe
individual workinordertoconsider itinrelation tothewholeliterary system as wellas to
culture, and no
history society, longerregarded objective as entitiesover and againstthe
textbutas partaking ofthesametextuality as literature.
Thecrucialstepthatseparates everyprevious approximation tointertextuality fromthe
notion thatKristeva initiated takingBakhtin's theories as a pointofdeparture is theviewof
theexterior ofthetextas a system (oraninfinity) ofothersuchtextual structures. Thus,if
a textrefers to"all othertexts",theseareseen,in turn,as converging withhistory and
reality,bothexisting onlyintextualized form. Likewise,bothinBakhtinandKristeva, the
as of
subjectis conceived composed discourses, signifying as a system, a text understood
ina dynamic sense.No wonder, then,that, oncethisstepwastaken, intertextuality cameto
be defined as nothing but"l'impossibilité de vivrehorsdu texteinfini"(Barthes1973b,
59).
Fromthispointofview,itis easyto understand thefactthatthedevelopment ofthe
of
theory intertextuality would constitute in itself a complex intertextual event. If Plato,

ATLANTIS XVIII (1-2) 1996


272 María Martínez
Jesús Alfaro

Cicero,Quintilian... can be consideredtheintertexts


Aristotle, of Bakhtin'stheory,
Kristeva'
s dialoguewiththetextsofBakhtin, in whichshe initially uses theterminter-
is carriedout,in turn,
textualité, withthemediation oftheworksof DerridaandLacan,
amongothers. The ideasexpounded byall theseauthors areequallypresent in anyofthe
latercontributions
tothesubject(Barthes, Genette, . . .), andtheywillbe inthose
Riffaterre
approachesstilltocome.
In whatfollows,I willtrytoexplainthemainaspectsofsomefundamental viewson
thesubjectofintertextuality,beginning withBakhtinas thecrucialmediator between
twentieth-centuryintertextualtheoriesand thosetraceableantecedents (in theclassical
period,theMiddleAges,theRenaissance, etc.),alreadycommented on.Thenextlinkin
thechainwillbe theoneconstituted byJuliaKristeva, who,as we havenoted,introduced
thetermin herinterpretation of Bakhtin'sworkfortheWesternpublic,addingto his
theories
elements thatshehadtakenfromsuchfieldsas formal logic,psychoanalysis and
deconstruction(Worton andStill1990,16). To endwith,I willanalyzesomeofthelater
theoriesof intertextuality
as theyhavedevelopedfromits firstintroducers. Since this
century seensucha widevariety
has ofpositionsonthesubjectthatconcerns us,I willnot
attempttocoverthematerial butrather
exhaustively, togivea brief analysis ofsomeofthe
mostimportant andinfluential
theorists
afterBakhtin andKristeva.

2. THE ORIGINSOF THE TERM: MIKHAILBAKHTINAND JULIAKRISTEVA


Although Bakhtinstartedpublishing as earlyas 1919, for a varietyof reasons
(personal,political. . .) itis onlyoverthelasttwenty orso yearsthathehasslowlycometo
berecognized in critical circlesoutsideEastern Europe,His theory oflanguage(everyday
dialogism) andofthepolesofliterature (themonologic "andthedialogic)canbe takenas a
powerfulprecursorof and influenceon the developmentof later approachesto
intertextuality.
Whatcanonlyuneasilybe called"Bakhtin's philosophy" is a pragmatically oriented
theory ofknowledge, one amongothermodern epistemologies thatseektograsphuman
behaviour through theusewe makeoflanguage. Bakhtin's distinctiveplaceamongtheseis
specified the
by dialogicconcept oflanguage thatheproposes as fundamental.
Dialogism' s immediate philosophicalantecedents aretobe foundintheattempts made
byvariousneo-Kantians toovercomethegap between"matter" and"spirit".Moreover,
Kant's argument thatthereis an unbridgeable gap betweenmindand worldis the
conceptual rockonwhichdialogism is founded.One ofitsbasicaimsis toframea theory
of knowledgeforan age whenrelativity dominates physicsand cosmologyand,thus,
whennon-coincidence ofonekindor another raisestroubling questionsanddoes away
withtheoldconviction thattheindividual subjectis thesiteofcertainty, whetherthesubject
so conceived is namedGod,thesoul,theauthor... (Holquist1990,17,19).ForBakhtin,
the"self is dialogic,itlivesina relation ofsimultaneity withthe"other": consciousnessis
otherness or,moreaccurately, itis thedifferentialrelationbetween a centreandall thatis
nota centre.The self,then,maybe conceivedas a multiple phenomenon ofessentially
threeelements:a centre(I-for-itself), a not-centre (the-not-I-in-me), and therelation
between them(Holquist1990,29).
Dialogismis thenamenotjustfora dualism, butfora necessary inhuman
multiplicity
perception.We arein dialoguenotonlywithotherhumanbeingsandwithourselves, but
also withthenatural andthecultural configurationswe lumptogether as "theworld".In
sum,dialogism is basedontheprimacy ofthesocial,andtheassumption thatall meaning
is achievedthrough struggle.

ATLANTISXVIII (1-2) 1996


ORIGINSAND DEVELOPMENTOF THE CONCEPT
UNTERTEXTUALITY: 273

AnyanalysisofBakhtin's theory aboutliterary discourse mustbeginwithhisviewon


language, sincetheformer is a direct consequence of thelatter. Justas he triesto avoidan
essentialistunitary conception of the self,Bakhtin giveslanguagethesametreatment. His
projectis nota linguistics but,to use hisword,a "metalinguistics", a viewof language
within a socialandhistorical frame. Thismetaposition, however, is notso mucha move
towards transcendence as itis a battlestance,a polemical insistence uponsituating theories
of languagewithintheconstraints of theirparticular social and historicalperiod.He
systematically questionsand subvertsthebasic premisesand arguments of traditional
linguistictheory. Thus,whileSaussureis interested in languageas an abstract andready-
madesystem, Bakhtin is interested onlyinthedynamics oflivingspeech.WhereSaussure
speaksofpassiveassimilation (inrelation to languageas opposedto speaking),Bakhtin
sees a processof struggle and contradiction. And whereasSaussuredichotomizes the
individual andthesocial,Bakhtin assumesthattheindividual is constituted bythesocial,
thatconsciousness is a matter ofdialogueandjuxtaposition witha social"other".
Insteadofworking withtheolddualismofsystem andperformance, hepositscommu-
nicationandnotlanguageas thesubjectofhisinvestigations. Language,as conceivedby
mostlinguists, wouldembracegrammar, lexicon,syntaxandphonetics; discussionsof
wordcombinations wouldn't includea unitmorecomprehensive thanthesentence. All the-
se features playa roleas wellinBakhtin's metalinguistics, butas dynamic elements incon-
stantdialoguewithotherfeatures thatcomeintoplayonlyin particular actsof commu-
nication. So, tothelistoftopicsappropriate tothestudy oflanguage shouldbe addedthose
appropriate tothestudyofcommunication as well:utterances, Bakhtin'sfundamental unit
ofstudy, andspeechgenres, theconventions bywhichutterances areorganized.
ForBakhtin, unity orplenitude inlanguage canonlybe anillusion. Literary authorscan
attempt to
artificiallystrip language ofothers' a
intentions,unifying project which he calls
monologism or poetry.On theotherhand,at certainhistorical moments, writers have
artisticallyelaborated andintensified heteroglossia, creating whathe calls the(dialogic)
novel.As Worton andStillpointout(1990,15),itis important tonotethatthesecategories
do notcorrespond to traditional ones,forexample,Heine's lyricverseis includedby
Bakhtin inthecategory of"novel",whereas Tolstoy'sproseis presented as monological.
Monologism has, according to Bakhtin (1981, 271), been encouraged or imposedby
hierarchical orcentralizing socio-linguistic forcessuchas Aristotelian orCartesian poetics,
themedieval church's "onelanguage oftruth",orSaussurean linguistics. Thenovel,onthe
otherhand,hasbeenshapedbyiconoclastic, evenrevolutionary populartraditions,among
whichthecarnival playsa veryimportant role.It is in popularlaughter, in theparodyand
travesty ofall highgenresandloftymodelsthattherootsofthenovelare to be sought.
Thisappliesin particular totheSocraticdialoguesandalso toMenippeansatire,in which
laughter is used as a weapon against authorityandtheestablished hierarchies.Whereasthe
epicworld, andtheworldofhighliterature ingeneral,is absoluteandcomplete, closedas
a circleinsidewhicheverything is pastandalreadyover,lowgenresand,ina broadsense,
thecommonpeople'screativecultureof laughter, deal withcontemporaneity, flowing,
transitory, "low",present (Bakhtin1981,20). Undersuchaninfluence, thenovelappears
as uniqueamongall genresduetoitsability tochangeanddevelop.Moreover, everytime
thenovel,inanyofitsmanifestations, hastriedto adoptandkeepa stable,fixedform, it
hasbeenheavily attacked and criticized (Bakhtin 1981, 6). This is what happened, for
instance, withthechivalry romanceand thesentimental novel.However,it is fromthe
parodyof previousnovelistic traditionsthatsomeof themostimportant worksin the
historyof literaturehave taken their force.From this perspective, nothing conclusive canbe
said aboutthenovel,whichmustalways be seen as open,free,and in continuous
development.

ATLANTISXVIII (1-2) 1996


274 María Martínez
Jesús Alfaro

The novel constitutes, forBakhtin,thehighestincarnationof thedialogical play that


characterizesall discourse.No utteranceis devoid of dialogical dimension.The only dis-
tinctionthatcan be drawnin thisregardis notbetweendiscoursesendowedwithdialogism
and thosedevoidof it,butbetweenthetworoles,one weak and one strong,thatdialogism
can be called to play. Yet, at times,he is temptedto inscribeit into a single opposition
wherethe"dialogical" utterancewould face a "monological"one, as is the case withthe
relationthathe establishesbetweenproseand poetry(Todorov 1984,63-8).
Fromas earlyas thefirsteditionof Problemsof Dostoevsky'sPoetics (1929), and es-
pecially in the chapterentitled"Discourse in the Novel", prose, which is dialogical, is
opposed to poetry,whichis not. In poetry,language is conceived as unitaryand, conse-
quently,theutterance appearsas self-sufficient,withno relationto otherutterances external
to it.The poetfullyassumeshis/her speechact and regardseach wordas his/her own,as a
pureand directexpressionof his/herintentions. The novelist,on theotherhand,does not
exclude the intentionsof others as they are presentin every utterance,and allows
heteroglossiato enterhis/herwork,thuscreatinga unique artisticproductout of such a
diversityof voices (Bakhtin 1981, 297-98). Prose and poetryare, then,the resultof
opposedtendencies:one is centrifugal and leads to pluralityand variation(thenovel), the
otheris centripetaland is associatedwiththeunitary and thesingle(thepoeticgenres). This
de-centralizing impulsethatcharacterizesthenovelaccounts,fromtheverybeginning,for
its parodiequalityand its oppositionto anykindof authority. While poetrycontributes to
theculturalandpoliticalcentralization of theverbaland ideological worlds,thenovel has,
fromitsorigins,a de-estabilizingfunctionthatopposes it to officiallanguage. Irreverent,
like the carnival, the novel turnsout to be the subversive and liberating genre par
excellence.
Intimatelylinkedwiththissubversiveand liberatingqualityis the novel's capacityto
questionitselfand itsown conventions(Bakhtin1981, 39). Consideringtheways in which
novelisticdiscoursemayovertlyappearas self-reflexive, Bakhtin(1981, 412-13) mentions
thoseworkscentredon whathe calls "the literaryman", who sees lifethroughtheeyes of
literatureand triesto live accordingto it. Don Quixoteand Madame Bovary are the best
knownexamplesof thistype,butthe"literary man"and thetestingofthatliterary discourse
connectedwithhimcan be foundin almosteverymajorliterarywork.There are also those
novels which introducean authorialfigurein the diegesis, someone thatcommentson
his/hercreative task and on the process of writing(a "laying bare of device", in the
terminologyof the Russian formalists).In thatway, we have not only the novel in its
propersense,butalso fragments of a sortof "novel about thenovel". Tristram Shandyis
perhapsthebestexampleand an important precedentof theself-reflexive qualitycentralto
Britishpostmodernist literature.
Before finishingthissurveyof Bakhtin's ideas on language and the novel, it would
perhapsbe convenientto call attentionto two aspects of his theorywhichmay be mis-
leading.The firsthas to do withthepositionof theauthorin relationto his/herwork.As
has alreadybeen noted,in themonologicalgenresthe authorsubordinatesall the voices
presentto his/herown intentions.In a different way, the prose writerdoes not impose a
singlecriterionto thereaderbut,on thecontrary, allows each voice to keep its own in-
tegrityand independence.However,Bakhtindoes notgo so faras to arguethattheauthor
is absentfromhis/her text:
thereis no unitary
languageor stylein thenovel.Butat thesametimetheredoes exista
centeroflanguage(a verbal-ideologicalcenter)forthenovel.The author(as creator
of the
novelistwhole)cannotbe foundatanyoneofthenovel'slanguagelevels:heis tobe foundat
thecenteroforganization
whereall levelsintersect. 1981,48-9)
(Bakhtin

ATLANTISXVIII (1-2) 1996


ORIGINSAND DEVELOPMENTOF THE CONCEIT
INTERTEXTUALITY: 275

Thisassertion Bakhtin
separates frompoststructuralist withwhomhe hasbeenas-
critics,
sociatedonaccount ofhisdefence ofthepolyphonic characteroflanguage ingeneralandof
thenovel,inparticular.
The otherpointI wouldliketocomment on goesbackto whathas alreadybeensaid
aboutthenovel'slinkwiththepresent, a presentwhichis alwayschanging andmovingto-
wardsan equallyinconclusive future.In spiteofthis,thenovelcan have,andoftenhas,
thepastas itscentralsubject.Butevenwhenthisis thecase,thepresent anditsopencha-
racterwillalwaysbe thebasison whichtheportrait ofthepastis structured.According to
AídaDíaz Bild(1994, 140),thisdirectcontactwithcontemporary realityhas important
consequences forthenovelistic discourse.Oneofthemhastodo withtheauthor'sability
tomovefreely withinhis/herfieldofrepresentation (something unthinkablein thecase of
theepic),whichmakespossibletheintroduction ofoneofthenovel'sbasicfeatures: its
self-consciousness.
literary thisnewtemporal
In addition, orientationputsitincontactwith
extra-literarygenres,thatis,witheveryday realityandideology. Thisfactenhanceseven
moretheopenqualityof thenovel,sinceliterary evolutionbringswithit notonlythe
introduction of changeswithinexistinglimitsbutalso themodification of suchlimits:
"Afterall, the boundariesbetweenfictionand nonfiction, betweenliterature and
nonliteratureandso fortharenotlaidupinheaven"(Bakhtin 1981,33).
According toBakhtin, everythingstandsunderthesamesign:thesignofplurality. Our
livesaresurrounded bytheechoesofa dialoguethatundermines theauthorityof anysingle
voice,a dialoguethattakesplacewithin thetext,butwhichis,atthesametime,a dialogue
withall thevoicesoutsideit.Unlikethethird eyeofTibetanBuddhism, whichgivesthose
whopossessita visionofthesecretunity holdingcreation together,Bakhtin seemstohave
hada third earthatpermitted himtoheardifferences whereothers perceivedonlysameness,
especiallyintheapparent wholeness ofthehumanvoice(Holquist1983,307).
***
Oneofthemostimportant, andearliest ofBakhtin'sworkfora Western
interpretations
publicwas the one by Julia Kristeva. In the late 1960s, Kristevasubscribedto the Tel
Quelian notions of textual, i.e. cultural,revolution.She saw Bakhtin'sconceptofdialo-
gismas quintessentiallydynamic, evenrevolutionary. In herview,whatittriedto revolu-
tionizedynamically wasnotonlythestaticstructural modelbutcultural politicsingeneral.
in the
Bakhtin, propagating relativity of each singleposition,the self-criticismof each
word,theundermining of all dogmaticand officialmonologism, the carnivalesque
profanizationofall thatis sacredandthesubversion ofall authority, was fighting against
theincreasing of
rigidity post-revolutionary Soviet cultural politics and thedoctrinary
canonization ofSocialistRealism.He was,in fact,continuing therevolutionary struggle
againstrepression. (
Itwasthisrevolutionary potential ofBakhtin's criticismofideological monologism that
fascinated Kristevaandother writers ofthe Tel Quel circlein the late sixties,and they,in
turn,employed Bakhtin's concept of dialogism intheirown struggle against thebourgeois
ideologyof theautonomy andunityof individual consciousness andtheself-contained
meaning oftexts.Kristeva tried to achievethis objectivebyfusing ideasfromphilosophy
(Husserl/Derrida), political science (Marx/Althusser) and psychoanalysis (Freud/Lacan)
withtheprocedures ofstructural linguistics(Chomsky) andformal logic.
For Kristeva,Bakhtinrepresents thepossibility of openinglinguistics to society:
"Bakhtin thetextwithin
situates and
history society, which areseen as texts read bythe
writer,and intowhich he inserts himself by rewriting them" (Kristeva 1980, 65). Fol-
Bakhtin, Kristeva attempts to transform semiotics into something she also calls
lowing
(1980,37), a method ofanalysisthatallowshertoconfront theliterary
"translinguistics"

ATLANTISXVIII (1-2) 1996


276 María
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Martínez

workon theformal andthesociallevelssimultaneously. Atthesametime,however, she


transforms Bakhtin's concepts bycausingthemtobe readinconjunction withideasabout
textualitythatwereemerging inFranceinthemid-sixties. Forinstance, sheslips"text" into
a paraphrase ofBakhtin: "eachword(text)is anintersection ofwords(texts)whereatleast
oneotherword(text)canbe read"(1980,66). Thoughtheparentheses implythatKristeva
is onlysupplying a synonym, or at most,a neutral expansion of Bakhtin's concept, this
textualization ofBakhtin changeshisideas,changesthemjust enoughto allow thenew
concept ofintertextuality toemerge. Kristeva's term becamequitepopularbutitdidnotdo
so, however, becauseofitsowncoherence: thefaceof"intertextuality", as a newmaster
term, is less a simple,single,preciseimage,a bronzeheadby Rodin,thansomething
shattered, a portraitbustbyanavidexponent ofanalytic cubismtoopoortoafford a good
chisel(Clayton andRothstein 1991,11).
In "Word,Dialogue,andNovel"Kristevaintroduces Rabelaisand His Worldand
Problems ofDostoevsky's Poetics. However, her reading Bakhtin
of is mediated byother
textsandothercritics'theories, nottomention thepoliticalmotivation behindherwork:
"thereis no equivalence",she writes,"butrather, identity betweenchallenging official
linguistic codes and challenging official law" (1980,65). In the lastresort, hers is a polit-
icalconceptwhichaimsatempowering thereader/critic to opposetheliterary andsocial
traditionatlarge.
Among theauthors thatmediateKristeva's reading ofBakhtin, Derridaplaysa crucial
role.Whenshecharacterizes Bakhtin's "conception of'theliterary word'as anintersection
oftextualsurfacesrather thana point(a fixedmeaning), as a dialogueamongseveral
writings" (1980,65,italicsintheoriginal), onecannothelpbutnoticeDerrida' s critique of
voicebehind thisslight shifttowards a dialogueof"writings", not"utterances", particularly
sinceKristeva citesOfGrammatology on thefirst pageofheressay.A Derridean viewof
writing suppliesa dimension thatwas notpresent inBakhtin originally, thedimension of
indeterminacy, of différance, of dissemination. AlthoughBakhtin'snotionsof
"heteroglossia" or"hybridization" mightseemnearequivalentsto thepoststructuralist
concepts, Bakhtin's emphasis on the historical uniqueness ofthecontext ofeveryutterance
distances histermsfromtheendlesslyexpanding scopeof intertextuality. In Kristeva's
usage,theintersection oftextual surfaces in a literarywordcanneverbe circumscribed, it
is open to endless dissemination. In fact,Derrida's readingof Saussure in Of
Grammatology mustbe regarded as a crucialintertext of mosttheories ofintertextuality.
The wayin whichhe subordinates difference betweenthesignifier andsignified to the
difference between onesignifier andanother, hisnotion ofthegeneral text(//n'ya pas de
horstexte), as well as his definition of iterability, whichleads to a view of textsas
inevitably quotingand quotable,provideamplespace withintheobjectof studyfora
multitude ofintertexts.
In muchthesameway,Lacan functions as a largelyunacknowledged intertext for
Kristeva's account of Bakhtin. She notesthatBakhtin's claimthatthelanguageofepicis
univocalcannotwithstand a psychoanalytic approach tolanguage.Itis psychoanalysis as
wellas thesemiotics shecites(thetheory ofBenveniste), thatrevealdialogismto be in-
herent ineveryword,as thetraceofa dialoguewithoneself(withanother), anda writer's
distancefromhim/herself (1980,74). Thispsychoanalysis is Lacan's andhisideasmay
havelainbehindKristeva's choiceoftheterm"ambivalence" todescribe certain forms of
dialogism (Clayton andRothstein 1991,19-20).
Fromthisandothermodifications of Bakhtin, then,thereemergeKristeva'sseveral
"definitions" ofintertextuality:

ATLANTISXV'''{'-2) 1996
INTHRTEXTUALITY: OFTHECONCEPT
ANDDEVELOPMENT
ORIGINS 277

anytextis constructed as a mosaicofquotations; anytextis theabsorption andtransforma-


tionofanother. The notionof intertextuality replacesthatofintersubjectivity, andpoetic
languageis read as atleast double. (1980,66)
Dialogueandambivalence leadmetoconcludethat,within theinteriorspaceofthetextas
wellas within thespaceoftexts, poeticlanguageis a "double".(1980,69)
Thewriter's interlocutor[ ... ] is thewriterhimself, butas readerof another text.The one
whowrites is thesameas theonewhoreads.Sincehisinterlocutor is a text,hehimselfis no
morethana textrereading itself. Thedialogicalstructure,
therefore,appearsonly in thelight
ofthetextelaborating itselfas ambivalent inrelationtoanothertext.(1980,86-87)
Forthepractising critic,Kristeva's conception opensseverallacunae
ofintertextuality
thatdo notappearinBakhtin(ClaytonandRothstein one involvesa
1991,20). The first
vagueness abouttherelation ofthesocialtotheliterarytext.Kristevadoesnotdiscusswhat
happens toa fragmentofthesocialtextwhenitis "absorbed" andtransformed byliterature,
nordoes sheaccountforhowspecificsocialtextsarechosenfor"absorption". A second
problem, theinability to constructa convincing history,
literary followsfromthefirst.
Kristeva(1980,71) claims,forexample, thata breakoccurred attheendofthenineteenth
that
century clearly marks offthe dialogismof Joyce,Proust,and Kafkafrom thedialogical
novelsofthepast,including Bakhtin's examples,RabelaisandDostoevsky.
principal But
herconception ofintertextualitygenerates no meansofdistinguishing themodernnovels
from thoseearlierpolyphonic works.
In spiteofall this,thenotionandtheconceptintroduced byKristevasoonspreadall
overEurope,andflowedacrosstheAtlantic intothediscourses ofAmerican as a
criticism
major,shapinginfluence on literaryhistoryandtheory fromthemid-seventies untilthe
Butlikeanyinfluential
present. idea,itchangedas itwas assimilated within cul-
different
contexts.
turalandintellectual Theorists,ofcourse,trytoregularizeit,butadaptationsof
haverefused
intertextuality orthodoxy, oftenencouragingmultipleinterpretations.

3. LATER THEORIESOF INTERTEXTUALITY : MAINLINES OF DEVELOPMENT


As ClaytonandRothstein (1991,21) pointout,laterapproaches tointertextuality have
keptandfurther textualized Kristeva's strongbasis in semiotics: thescience of signsde-
velopedby Saussure and intact
still in Barthes' Elements ofSemiology (1964) is treated
lessas a sciencewithobjective aimsandverifiable resultsandmoreas a modeofinterpre-
tation.Theories proceeded from thispointinthree directions(ClaytonandRothstein 1991,
21): (1) thedeconstructive of
path aporia and thereader's puzzlement or play;(2) what can
be regarded as an attempt tolimittheendlessly expanding intertextual spacesuggested by
theprevious deconstructive approach, inaneffort tofindoutthebasiccriteriaofa method
thatcanthrow somelightonthepractical analysisofintertextuality and(3) the
inliterature;
socialorpolitical pathtakenbycultural materialism or newhistoricist criticism. Barthes
willservetoexemplify (1); MichelRiffaterre, Jonathan CullerandGérardGenettewill
illustratesomeof thebasic aspectsof (2); andRezeptionandFoucaldiancriticism will
appearperhaps as thebestrepresentatives ofthe last approach (3).
EvenbeforeKristeva's1965 presentation of Bakhtinin Barthes'seminar,Roland
Barthes was evokingsomething likeintertextualityunderthenameof crytographie. In Le
degrézerode Vécriture(1972) he usestheterm thus:
Sindudapuedohoyelegirtalo cualescritura, y conese gestoafirmarmilibertad,
pretender
o unatradición;
unfrescor perono puedoya en
desarrollarla una sin
duración volvermepoco
a pocoprisionerode las palabrasdelotroe inclusode mispropiaspalabras.Una obstinada
remanencia,que llegade todaslas escriturasprecedentesy del pasadomismode mipropia

ATLANTISXVIII (1-2) 1996


278 MaríaJesúsMartínez
Alfaro

cubre
escritura, la vozpresente
demispalabras.
Todahuellaescrita comoun
se precipita
elemento
químico, primero inocente
transparente, enelquela simple
yneutro, duración
hace
aparecer a un en una cada
poco poco pasado suspensión, criptografía vez másdensa.(Barthes
1973a,25)
Thisis intertextuality
in thesensethata textmayappeartobe thespontaneous andtrans-
parent expression ofa writer's intentions,butmustnecessarily containelements ofother
texts.
Barthes provides anextraordinary exampleofthisinS/Zwherehe picksoutsomeof
the quotationswithoutquotationmarks,some of the references to culturalcodes,
stereotypes,received wisdomandso oninBalzac's Sarrasine.
LikeKristeva, Barthesholdsthatthelimitations ofthelinguistic-structuralistapproach
haveto be overcomeby meansof a meeting of differentepistemes, namelydialectical
materialism andpsychoanalysis. Thisnewmethod willproducea newobjectthatwe call
textandwhichis intertextual bydefault: othertextsare alwayspresentin it,at varying
levelsandinmoreorlessrecognizable forms (Barthes1987,39).
Barthes'visionofintertextuality alsohighlights thefrequentanonymity ofthe"sources"
of intertextual quotations.This idea was implicitin Kristeva's discussionof the
"absorption" of socialtexts,becausethesocialmaybe thought of as the networkof
anonymous ideas,commonplaces, folkwisdom,andclichésthatmakeupthebackground
ofone's life.Whereastraditional influence studiesprimarily hunted forallusionstocele-
bratedworksofthepast,Barthes, however, makesthecommomplace central: "thecitations
whichgo tomakeupa textareanonymous, untraceable,andyetalready read"(1990, 160).
The "alreadyread" in Barthesencompassesmorethantheidea thatwe all possess
conventional knowledge whosesourceswecannotrecall.Itextends towards a notionofthe
subjectas constituted by the texts ofhis/her culture,the as
subject already read: "ThisT
whichapproaches thetextis alreadyitselfa plurality of othertexts,of codes whichare
infiniteor,moreprecisely, lost"(1974,10). Kristevaherself hasconsistently argued,in
accordance withnewFrenchpsychoanalytic theory,for thisre-definitionof the subjectas
alwaysalreadycleftasunderor evenradicallydispersed. The fracturing of thereading
subjectis inevitablyassociated withthedissolution oftheauthor, ordeathoftheauthor as
Barthesputsit.This impliedrejection of authority does notcorrespond exactlyto the
orevenrevolutionary
political thrustwhichKristeva emphasizes inBakhtin. Barthestends
tosoundrather neutralinhissenseas heseemseverreadytopoliticize matters oftaste,but
alsotoaestheticize issues.
political
Valuableas Barthes'accountofintertextuality is,itdoesnotprovidethecriticwitha
particularlyeffectivetool for analyzingliterary texts.ClaytonandRothstein (1991,23)
pointtothefactthatBarthes' radicalintertextualityforegoes thepossibilityofrigour inthe
discussion ofindividual texts,so muchso thatto attempt sucha rigorous discussion, he
mustretrench on thetheory.This theory, however,has a real heuristic or, at least,
iconoclasticvalueinunsettling customary ideasabouttheauthor, thework,andtherepre-
sentationofreality.

The secondpath,thatin whichintertextuality is usedto achievegreaterinterpretive


hasbeentakenbycriticswhohaveapplieditrather
certainty, totheirpractical
effectively
suchas MichelRiffaterre,
criticism, Jonathan CullerandGérardGenette. Whilethelatter
privilegestheliterarytextin itsnarrower sense,theformer concentrateson theact of
readingand Cullerrelies
on the method
linguistic and its with
analogies discourse
literary in
ordertocarry taskfrom
outhiscritical anintertextual However,
perspective. inspiteofthe
differences,theirapproachesare equallybenton establishing certainlimitsto the
intertextual
scopeofeveryparticulartext.

ATLANTISXVIII (1-2) 1996


ORIGINSAND DEVKLOPMKNTOF TI IE CONCEPT
INTERTEXTUALITY: 279

Takingintoaccounttherelevant roleofthereader, Riffaterre approaches intertextuality


notonlyfromthepointofviewofall thepossiblerelations amongtextsbutas themain,
fundamental characteristic of(literary) reading. He defines theliterary phenomenon as not
onlythetext, butalsoitsreaderandall thereader'spossiblereactions tothetext(1983,3).
Although hehassometimes beencalleda structuralist, thislabelneedsqualification, for
herejects thestructuralist searchfora deepgrammar in literature,as wellas thenotionthat
all literaryworksofa giventypesharethesamestructure. On thecontrary, hebelievesthat
theonlysignificant structure ina literary workis thatwhichthereader canperceive. Yethe
mustalso be distinguished fromthereader-response critics,inthathisworkis basedon a
concern withtextual elements thatreaders areobligedtorecognize.
He distinguishes twostagesof reading(1980, 625-27). The firstone is a naive,
"mimetic" reading which yieldswhathe callsthe"meaning" ofa work,thelinear,word-
by-word decoding of the message in accordance with an assumption thatlanguageis
referential, thatwordsrelatedirectly tothings. In thecourseofthisreading, however, one
encounters "ungrammaticalities" - difficulties, obscurities, undecidable moments, figu-
rativelanguage - anywording so unacceptable in a mimetic contextthatit prompts the
readertolookelsewhere forthe"significance" ofthework.Thisemerges onlyina second
stageof reading,no longerlinealbutcomparative. Riffaterre considerstwo possible,
though not exclusive, of
ways reading comparatively: retroactive readingandintertextual
reading. Theformer refers tothewayinwhichthereaderkeepsreviewing andcomparing
backwards, recognizing repetitions andvariations uponthesamestructure(s). Intertextual
reading, on the other hand, is
theperception ofsimilar comparabilities from texttotext; oritis theassumption thatsuch
comparing must be done even ifthere is no intertextat hand wherein tofind comparabilities.
(1980,626)
Ambiguity existsonlyas a stageinthereading processandservestoalertthereaderto
thepresence ofanintertext thatwillresolvethework'sdifficulties. Thesefunction as traces
leftbytheabsentintertext, as signsofanintertext tobe completed elsewhere. Such"clues"
areenoughto setin trainan intertextual reading, eveniftheintertext is notyetknownor
hasbeenlostwiththetradition itreflected (1980,627).
Rejecting thepoststructuralist dispersal ofmeanings, Riffaterre claimsthatthereis only
onecorrect readingandthatitis theintertextual method thatguidesthereaderin his/her
interpreting. According tohim,theability torecognize gapsandungrammaticalities arepart
of everyreader'slinguisticcompetenceand it does not requiremucheruditionor
"preternatural insights" (1987,373). Yet hisowninterpretations ofpoemsandnovelsare
fulloflearned allusions and draw on an encyclopaedic command ofFrenchandEnglish
literatures. Anyway, what is relevant in his theory is his basic concern withtheeffect on
thereaderofa textualpresupposition: readers presuppose thatthereis an intertext which
givesstructural andsemantic unitytothework,butthesuccessor failureto locatethat
intertext on thepartofthereaderis,in a sense,irrelevant totheexperience ofintertextual
reading. Analogousifnotidentical withKristeva'sassertion thateverytextis underthe
jurisdiction ofotherdiscourses, Riffaterre's thesisis thatliterary reading is possibleonlyif
thereader recognizes that the textarticulates a presupposition of intertext, tosuchan extent
thatthetextcanbe considered notsimply a sequenceofwordsorganized as syntagms buta
of
sequence presuppositions (1980,627).
Theconcept ofpresupposition is alsoa central oneinthetheory ofJonathan Culler.The
example of Riffaterre illustrates the logical independence of intertextuality from many
poststructuralist assumptions. Culler also arguesforthe constraining powerof in-
tertextuality, although notso absolutely as Riffaterre, forwhom,as we havenoted,thereis

ATLANTISXVIII (1-2) 1996


280 María
Jesús
Martínez
Alfaro

onlyone properinterpretation of a text,the one thatis reached throughthe intertextual


method.In "Presuppositionand Intertextuality" (1976), Culler suggeststhatwe startthe
studyof intertextualityby consideringits linguisticdimensionsand in termsof two kinds
of presuppositions: logical and pragmatic.The formerare best thoughtof as the presup-
positionsof a sentence.Thus, thequestion"Have you stoppedbeatingyourwife?" pre-
supposesthatone previouslymade a habitof beatingone's wife (Culler 1976, 1389). On
theotherhand,a sentencelike"Once upona time",thoughpoorin logicalpresuppositions,
is extremelyrichin pragmatic ones sinceitrelatesthestorythatfollowsto a seriesof other
stories,identifiesit with the conventionsof a genre, etc. (Culler 1976, 1392). The
linguisticanalogysuggests,accordingto Culler,two waysof approachingintertextuality:
Thefirstis to lookat thespecificpresuppositions
ofa giver)text,thewayin whichitpro-
ducesa pre-text,anintertextual
spacewhoseoccupants mayormaynotcorrespond toother
actualtexts... The secondenterprise,thestudyof rhetorical
orpragmaticpresupposition,
leadstoa poeticswhichis less interested
in theoccupants
ofthatintertextual
spacewhich
makesa workintelligible thanintheconventions whichunderliethatdiscursive or
activity
space.(1976, 1395)
The practicalvirtueof Culler'sproposalis, then,thatit limitstheset of possible intertexts
to thosewhichare eitherlogicallyor pragmatically suggestedby theworkone is studying,
and thatitdoes so withoutexcludingtheanonymous,alreadyread discourseof thesocial
text,whichis usuallyignoredin influencestudies(Culler 1976, 1383). Fromthispointof
view, Culler also calls attentionto the complex quality of the relationshipthatexists
betweeninfluenceand intertextuality. When he proposes to follow the linguisticmodel
(and, in particular,the notionof presupposition),he does so as a means of avoidingthe
dangerof settingout to studyintertextuality and focusing,in theend,on a text'srelationto
specificprecursors, something more in consonance withinfluencestudies.Accordingto
Culler, this is precisely the sort of mistake that Kristeva makes in her analysis of
Lautréamont'sPoésies, a disappointingreadingforanyoneundertheimpressionthatthe
wholepointof intertextuality is to takeus beyondthestudyof identifiablesources(Culler
1976, 1384-85).
Like MichelRiffaterre's and Jonathan Culler's proposals,GérardGenette's approachto
thesubjectof intertextuality can be consideredas an attemptto delimitthedefinitions of
intertextuality put forwardby Kristeva,Derrida,Barthes,etc., as theyhave been found
difficultto applyto thepracticalanalysisof texts.In contrastwithBakhtin'sand Kristeva's
wide interests,whichare not only linguisticbut also social, political,philosophical ...,
Genetteconcentrates basicallyon theliterary textin thestrictsense of theword.Reading
Kristeva'snotionof intertextuality as referringto theliteraland effectivepresencein a text
of anothertext,he assertsthatintertextualityis an inadequatetermand proposesin itsplace
, by whichhe meanseverything,
transtextuality be itexplicitor latent,thatrelatesone textto
others.Therefore, thoughhe centreson theparticularliterary text,he acknowledgesthatit
can no longerbe studiedin isolation.
El objetode la poética[ ... ] no es el textoconsiderado
en su singularidad[ ... ] sinoel ar-
chitexto. . . Hoyyodiría,enunsentido másamplio,queesteobjetoes la transtextualidado la
transcendencia textual
deltexto.(1989,9)
Genetteinsistson theglobalityof
In Palimpsestes,his "last word"uponintertextuality,
thenotionof transtextuality and offersfivesubcategories(1989, 10-15):
1. Intertextuality:therelationof co-presencebetweentwo or more texts,thatis, the ef-
fectivepresenceof one textin anotherwhichtakesplace by meansof plagiarism,
quotationor allusion.

ATLANTISXVIII (1-2) 1996


INTERTEXTUAUTY: OFTHECONCEPT
ANDDEVELOPMENT
ORIGINS 28 1

2. Paratextuality. therelations between thebodyofa textanditstitle,subtitle, epigraphs,


illustrations,notes,firstdrafts,andotherkindsofaccessorysignalswhichsur-
roundthetextandsometimes comment onit.
3. Metatextuality: therelation, usually called "commentary", whichlinksone textwith
another thatcomments onitwithout quoting itor,even,without mentioning itat
all.Itis thecritical parexcellence.
relation
4. Archtextuality: thegenericcategory a textbelongsto. The textmaynotrecognizeits
generic quality,whichshouldbe decidedbyitsreaders, critics. . . However,this
genericperception determines to a great extent the reader's"horizonsof
expectation", and,therefore,thework'sreception.
5. Hypertextuality: therelationbetweenthelatecometext(hypertext) and its pre-text
(hypotext). He defineshypertext as everytextderivedfroma previousoneby
meansofdirector indirect transformation (imitation), butnotthrough com-
mentary. In the former, director simple transformation, a text B may make no
explicitreference toa previous oneA, butitcouldn'texistwithout A. For in-
stance,TheEneydand Ulyssesare,in different degrees,twohypertexts ofthe
samehypotext, TheOdyssey.Imitation is a morecomplexkindoftransforma-
tion,sinceitrequires theconstitution ofa generic model.
In spiteofthiscomplexanddetailedclassification, thefivecategories establishedby
Genette tendtooverlapwhenitcomestothepractice. Forexample, theparatext mayalso
contribute todetermining thegenericqualityofthetext,thusmerging witharchtextuality.
Hypertextuality seen as the presenceof one text in another text does not seemtobe very
different from intertextuality.Onlybyrestricting thelatternotion toplagiarism, quotationor
allusion,andtheformer to parody, and
travesty pastiche is he able to keep them apart.
However, bothcategories falltogetheragainwhenheacknowledges that
nohayobraliteraria que,enalgúngradoy segúnlaslecturas, noevoqueotra,y,en este
sentido,todaslasobrassonhipertextuales ... (1989,19)
In such a generalstatement as this,one could equallysay "intertextual" insteadof
"hypertextual".
Despitethecomplexterminology andtheunavoidable overlapping,Genette' s concepts
may be taken as a useful point of departure to be sufficientlydefined lateron by each
individual and,aboveall,they
critic/theorist, contribute to the
underlining complexity ofthe
notionofintertextuality. Each textis trappedin a networkof relations,betweenthe
differentpartsthatconstitute it,between thattextandthosewhichprecedeit,orthosethat
comeafter it,or eventhosewhichneverwere(Borges'pseudo-textuality). In turn,all
thoserelations can be saidto existin as faras are
they perceived by thereader, whomay
discover anecho,butmayequallysilenceit.Genette himselfgoesas faras toassertthatthe
hypertext necessarily gainsin somewayor anotherfromthereader'sawarenessof its
and
signifying determining relationships withitshypotexts (1989,494), thusconfirming
LindaHutcheon's assertionthatmostdiscussions ofintertextualityendup considering the
roleofthereader, nomatter how formalisticthey have attempted to sound (Hutcheon 1986,
232). As Worton andStill(1990,23) pointout,Genette's analysisofindividual textsmay
be lesssustained, lessclosethanRiffaterre's, buthisworkdoesinsistently remind us that
can be actively"revolutionary" so
only long as it is creative as well as
memory
commemorative.
***
Thethird path,thatof putting at theserviceof politicalandhistorical
intertextuality
has become with
identified two schools,
Rezeptions-Ästhetikandcriticsassoci-
projects,

ATLANTISXVIII (1-2) 1996


282 MaríaJesúsMartínez
Alfaro

atedwithMichelFoucault.The former has triedto charthistoricaldevelopmentby looking


at theways in whichtheintertextual connectionsthata textevokes changeover time.Its
leadingproponents, Hans RobertJaussand WolfgangIser,do notrelyextensivelyon the
termintertextuality, but theirinvestigationsinto continuityand change employ related
notions.For Claytonand Rothstein(1991, 26), Jauss' Gadameriannotionof "horizonof
expectations"thata readerbringsto a workresemblesintertextuality, because thereader's
horizonis constructedby an inheritedsystemof normsand conventions.To thestudyof
thisintertextual field,Jauss' receptioncriticismadds a historicaldimensionby tracingthe
ways in which different readers' horizonsdivergefromone anotherover time.As faras
Iser's reader-response criticismis concerned,itemploysa similarintertextual concept,the
notionof "repertoire of thetext",a repertoire thatexistsonlyin thereaderand is activated
by "referencesto earlierworks,or to social and historicalnorms,or to thewhole culture
fromwhichthetexthas emerged"(in Claytonand Rothstein1991,26).
Foucault's pathleads towardsa conceptionof intertextuality thatemphasizesthe role
playednotonlyby discursivebutalso by non-discursiveformations such as institutions,
professionsand disciplines.Unlike Barthesand Derrida,withtheirboundless visions of
textuality,Foucaulthighlights theforcesthatrestrict thefreecirculationof thetext.Among
themhe citestheauthorprinciple, thatof commentary and thatofdiscipline:
We tendtosee,inan author's inthemultiplicity
fertility, ofcommentaries andinthedevel-
opment ofa discipline
so manyinfinite resourcesavailableforthecreationof discourse.
Perhapsso,buttheyarenonetheless principlesofconstraint,
anditis probably
impossibleto
theirpositive,multiplicatory
appreciate rolewithoutfirsttakingintoconsiderationtheir
restrictive,
constrainingrole.(Foucault1972,224)
To those"principlesof constraint"he also adds theconditionsunderwhich discourse
may be employed.Althougheverytextpossesses countlesspointsof intersectionwith
othertexts,theseconnectionssituatea workwithinexistingnetworksof power,simulta-
neouslycreatingand disciplining thetext'sabilityto signify.Foucaultinsiststhatwe ana-
lyze therole of powerin theproductionof textuality and of textualityin theproductionof
power.This entailslookingclosely at thosesocial and politicalinstitutions by whichsub-
jects are subjected,enabledand regulatedin formingtextualmeanings.Even if he regards
thetextas a siteof "anonymity" and theauthoras a "rolefunction"playedout in thetext,
Foucaultdoes notagreewithBarthes'isolationof thetextfromhistoryand ideology. His
concept of culture as intersectingdiscourses representsa form of the concept of
intertextualitythatemphasizestheproduction of ideology.
Foucault's neglectof genderissues has oftenbeen notedand historicist criticismin the
eightiesandninetieshas generallyattempted to correctthislacuna in Foucault's project,so
much so as to suggestthathistoricistcriticsshould begin by hyphenatingrace-class-
gender.In line withthis,and in relationto theproblematic questionof literary canons,Paul
Lauter(1993, 242) assertsthatan adequate theoryof criticismcan onlybe developed by
fully considering the art produced by women, by workingpeople and by national
minorities.
Oppositionalcriticismshave also adoptedand criticizedthe conceptof intertextuality.
Justas AnnetteKolodny thoughtthatfeministtheoristsmustrevise Bloom's notionof
influence,1 feminist and criticsof colourhave begunto rethinkthenotionof intertextuality.

1Thereareno female can reactin an attempt


againstwhicha womanwriter
figures to demarcate
herself
fromthem,sincenotonlyBloom'sbutanyliterary canonamongthosetraditionally pro-
posedincludeno womenwriters.In addition,
Bloom's theoryreproduces the
veryspecifically

ATLANTISXVIII (1-2) 1996


ORIGINSAND DEVELOPMENTOF THE CONCEIT
INTHRTKXTUALITY: 283

ClaytonandRothstein (1991,28) mention theexampleof BarbaraJohnson, forwhom


"questions ofgender mayenrich, complicate andevensubvert theunderlying paradigms of
intertextualitytheory" (Johnson 1987, 124). It hardly needs to be said thatthe work of
decentering male-centred cultureas it is expressedin language,literature, art and
institutional
configuration hasalwaysbeena majorconcern offeminist criticism. Formore
thantwo decades now,feminist scholarshave been reactingagainstthe apparently
systematic neglect ofwomen'sexperience intheliterary canon,neglect thattakestheform
ofdistorting andmisreading thefewrecognized femalewriters andexcludingtheothers.
Moreover, thepredominantly maleauthors inthecanonhavedealtwiththefemalecharacter
andtherelations betweenthesexesin a waythatbothreflects and contributes to sexist
ideology(Robinson1993, 213). The feministalternatives to the male-dominated
membership andattitudes oftheaccepted canonhavecontributed towidening andenriching
theintertextualspacethrough the recovery of lost works by women, and the restorationof
thevalueofdisdained genres. Evenif,as LillianS. Robinson asserts(1993,214),feminist
criticismhastended toconcentrate onwriting bywomen, it hasalsoemphasized alternative
readings of the tradition, that
readings re-interpret women's character, motivations, and
actions,andthatidentify andchallenge sexistideology: "from thisperspective, Miltonmay
comein forsomecensure, Shakespeare andChaucerforbothpraiseand blame,butthe
clearintentionofa feminist approach to these classicauthors is toenrichourunderstanding
ofwhatis goingoninthetext,as wellas how- forbetter, forworse,or forboth - they
haveshapedourliterary andsocialideas"(Robinson1993,214).
Feminist critics'recognition oftheindividual as a sitecrossedandmodelledbythedis-
coursesthatsurround him/her,theirmovingfromthemargins ofculture an entirelitera-
turethatwas previously dismissedandtheiralternative approaches to traditionalworks
nowpresented ina newlight, ultimately tendtosupport thealready acknowl edgedrelevan-
ce ofquestions ofgenderwithin therealmofintertextuality. To mention a lastexample,
mostfeminist criticism hasquestioned theoverallanonymity thatsurrounds thefigureof
theauthorin themaindiscourses ofintertextuality. Thisis, forinstance,whathas hap-
penedintheAmerican critical scene.Certainly manyAmerican criticshaveusedthetermin
itspureFrench form, but in the
general transplanted concept has resisted theerasureofthe
writer,i Thus,N. Miller'smethod inherwork"Arachnologies" is a deI berateblending of
Barthesian notionsof thetextas "textile"or "web"witha clashingAmerican feminist
insistence on theimportance of theauthor.But whereBarthes'textis an infinite web
itself Miller insistson re-introducing the spider - as author, as subject,
seemingly spinning
as agent,as gendered body,as producer ofthetext(Friedman 1991,158).
Many other approaches to the subject of intertextuality could be addedto theonesmen-
tionedhere.Sucha proliferation of theories underlines theinaprehensible qualityof the
conceptanalysed in this essay. Yet it is also a proof of the increasingly relevantrob
has
intertextuality been playing in contemporary literary criticism. Linda Hutcheon, among
others,hascalledattention tothefactthatthisparticular changein criticism hascomeabout
thewaymostcritical changesdo - thatis,primarily becauseofa changeintheliterature

Oedipalconflictbetweensons andfathers,whichmakesit ultimatelyinapplicable to thecase of


women.
1Thisdoesnotexcludetheexistence on thecontinent.
ofa similarreaction Friedman (1991: 176)
citesas examples reference
Wittig's inwhichtheauthor
toanintertextuality is stillclearlypresent in
"TheMarkofGender" volumeentitled
anda British ofModernCriticalTerms,edited
A Dictionary
byRogerFowler,in whichintertextuality underthegeneralcategory
is defined "Creation" in the
ForFowlerand Wittig,the author'sagencyis assumedin the
contextof Marxistcriticism.
"practice"ofintertextuality.

ATLANTIS XVIII (1-2) 1996


284 MaríaJesúsMartínez
Alfaro

itself(Hutcheon1986,231). Accordingly,a literature


constructed on theprincipleof
as seemstobe thecasewithmostpostmodern
intertextuality, asksforintertextual
literature,
readingsas wellas intertextual
methods I hopethatthesurveydeveloped
ofinterpretation.
inthisessaywillbe usefulto answerthedemandsimposedon us bya literature notless
complex thantheperiodinwhichithasbeenproduced: thepostmodern.

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