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The view of language expressed in these lines by Barthes is what theorists since the period in which his essay was produced have termed intertextual. Bakhtin to the French- speaking world. However, in the s his work was relatively unknown, much of it still unpublished. Not only does Kristeva coin the term intertexuality, but in doing so she introduces a figure who has since been styled the most impor- tant literary theorist of the twentieth century. Intertextuality and the work of Bakhtin are not, that is to say, separable, and in understanding the former we clearly must understand something of the latter.
I do not intend to go into the disputes over whether Bakhtin authored, co-authored, or did not author the texts of the s: The Formal Method in Literary Scholarship, Freudianism, Marx- ism and the Philosophy of Language. Nor will I suggest an an- swer to the thorny question of whether an adherence or resis- tance to Marxism characterizes his works of the s and be- yond. There are now a good number of critical accounts which discuss these topics directly see Todorov, ; Clark and Holquist, ; Morris, ; Pearce, ; Dentith, ; Vice, In our Introduction we noted that the term intertextuality emerged during a period of transition.
All these theorists worked and wrote in a context, the France of the late s, which was dominated by a political and social crisis culminating in the revolutionary events of We come to Bakhtin in very different histori- cal and political contexts, and confronting a great deal of work, by Bakhtin and on Bakhtin, unknown to Kristeva in the s.
Various languages Russian, French, English act as less than neutral channels for the transmission of these contexts and ideas. From our perspec- tive, Bakhtin can seem less an author from whose works a no- tion of intertextuality can be derived than a major theorist of intertextuality itself. The starting point for any understanding of Bakhtin and intertextuality must be found in the work of the s. To produce an abstract account of literary language or any language is to forget that language is utilized by individuals in specific social contexts.
The crucial word here is utterance, a word which captures the human-centred and so- cially specific aspect of language lacking in formalism and Saussurean linguistics. The very presence of the utterance is historically and socially sig- nificant. It was partly this uniqueness, or infinite potential, of spoken language which led Saussure to focus his analysis of language on langue at the ex- pense of parole and of langage.
If parole concerns the act of utterance, then langage concerns every conceivable parole generatable from the system of language langue. What constitutes the linguistic element in the utterance are the normatively identical forms of language present in it. The utterance, therefore, is considered a thoroughly individual entity. Such a vision of language langue is said by Saussure to provide the possibility for the potentially in- finite amount of possible utterances parole within that language. Language, seen in its social dimension, is constantly reflecting and transforming class, in- stitutional, national and group interests.
No word or utterance, from this perspective, is ever neutral. Though the meaning of utterances may be unique, they still derive from already estab- lished patterns of meaning recognizable by the addressee and adapted by the addresser. Whether such a sentence would be so in- telligible in is less certain. At times, as in the first days after the bombing in August of the high street in Omagh, Northern Ireland, an event can so dominate collective, social thought that it seems to shadow almost any possible utterance. Aspects of spoken language, like intonation, clearly become important in such dimensions of language-use.
The most crucial aspect of language, from this perspective, is that all language responds to previous utterances and to pre- existent patterns of meaning and evaluation, but also promotes and seeks to promote further responses. One cannot understand an utterance or even a written work as if it were singular in meaning, unconnected to previous and future utterances or works.
From the simplest utterance to the most complex work of scientific or literary discourse, no utterance exists alone. An ut- terance, such as a scholarly work, may present itself as an inde- pendent entity, as monologic possessing singular meaning and logic , yet it emerges from a complex history of previous works and addresses itself to, seeks for active response from, a com- plex institutional and social context: peers, reviewers, students, promotion boards and so on. All utterances are dialogic, their meaning and logic dependent upon what has previously been said and on how they will be received by others.
The abstract linguistics of Saussure strips language of its dialogic nature, which includes its social, ideological, subject-centred and sub- ject-addressed nature. All utterances are responses to previous utterances and are addressed to specific addressees. It is this addressivity of the word and utterance, as Bakhtin will later term it, which must be the central focus of the study of language.
In point of fact, word is a two-sided act. It is determined equally by whose word it is and for whom it is meant. As word, it is precisely the product of the reciprocal relationship between speaker and listener, addresser and addressee. A word is a bridge thrown between myself and another. If one end of the bridge depends on me, then the other depends upon my addressee. A word is territory shared by both addresser and addressee, by the speaker and his interlocutor. In telephone conversations, which take place between speakers unable to interpret physical signs, the nature of the intonations used, or the kinds of words employed, is crucial in establishing the meaning of the communicative act.
The manner in which I address my lover, my colleague, my bank manager will vary immensely in intonation and in what Bakhtin would later call speech genre. I will em- ploy different phrases when speaking or writing to such differ- ent addressees, partly because they will expect the use of ap- propriate speech genres.
As Bakhtin writes, in his essay on speech genres: The speaker is not the biblical Adam, dealing only with virgin and still unnamed objects, giving them names for the first time In reality The speaker is not Adam, and therefore the subject of his speech itself inevitably becomes the arena where his opinions meet those of his partners in a conversation or dispute about some everyday event or other viewpoints, world views, trends, theories, and so forth in the sphere of cultural communication.
World views, trends, viewpoints, and opinions always have verbal expression. Dialogism Dialogism, for Bakhtin, is a constitutive element of all language. However, these radically social and interpersonal dimensions can be promoted or repressed. If the dialogic aspect of language foregrounds class, ideological and other conflicts, divisions and hierarchies within society, then society, manifested in state power and those elements of society which serve state power, will fre- quently attempt to put the lid on such aspects. There is, as Bakhtin argues elsewhere, an on-going struggle between centripetal and centrifugal forces of language which can be symbolized by the opposition between monologic and dialogic utterance.
Carnival, through such images, celebrates the unoffi- cial collective body of the people and stands against the official ideology and discourse of religious and state power. We see the carnivalesque most explicitly in the medieval and Renaissance holidays and feast days in which the dominant order of society is overturned, fools dressing as nobles, nobles dressing as fools and so on. The modern inheritor of this unofficial, highly satiri- cal and parodic, dialogical tradition of the carnivalesque is found, Bakhtin argues, in the novel.
Dialogism is not literally the dialogues between characters within a novel. Every charac- ter in the dialogic novel has a specific, in some senses unique, personality. Each character in a Dostoevsky novel interprets the world for him- or herself and expresses this interpretation through his or her own specific discourse. Bakhtin, a: 53 In the polyphonic novel we find not an objective, authorial voice presenting the relations and dialogues between characters but a world in which all characters, and even the narrator him- or herself, are possessed of their own discursive consciousnesses.
The polyphonic novel presents a world in which no individual discourse can stand objectively above any other discourse; all discourses are interpretations of the world, responses to and calls to other discourses. A novelist in the English tradition often compared in these senses to Dostoevsky is Charles Dickens.
Even the third-person narrator, who might appear to some as acting in the position of objective narrator, has idiosyncratic opinions, gets angry, sides with some issues and rejects others, uses distinct images and turns of phrase. Bakhtin does not seek to announce the death of the Author. The novel, in this sense, presents to us a world which is literally dialogic. His thoughts are not simply his own, they emerge from his dialogic place within spoken and written culture: One of those chaps would make short work of a fellow.
Pick the bones clean no matter who it was. Ordinary meat for them. A corpse is meat gone bad. Corpse of milk. I read in that Voyages in China that the Chinese say a white man smells like a corpse. Cremation better. Priests dead against it. Devilling for the other firm. Wholesale burners and Dutch oven dealers. Time of the plague. Quicklime fever pits to eat them.
Lethal chamber. Ashes to ashes. Or bury at sea. Where is that Parsee tower of silence? Eaten by birds. Earth, fire, water. Drowning they say is the pleasantest. See your whole life in a flash. But being brought back to life no. Out of a flying machine. Wonder does the news go about whenever a fresh one is let down. Underground communication. We learned that from them. Got wind of Dingham. Saltwhite crumbling mush of corpse: smell, taste like raw white turnips.
Joyce, Bakhtin tends to argue that poetic forms like the epic and kinds of lyric are essentially monologic, they enforce a singular, au- thoritative voice upon the world. Only the novel, and indeed only certain kinds of novel, are, according to Bakhtin, truly dia- logic. This argument is on one level rather contradictory, since Bakhtin also discusses language in general in terms of dialogism.
Burns, We have here only one lyric voice, which is why Bakhtin tends to style this kind of poetry monologic. And yet within that voice we discover a distinct clash between an official English lan- guage and a Scottish dialect. With this notion of double-voiced discourse and its powerful place within the dialogic novel, and for us, in all dialogic texts, we begin to come close to what must appear a major theory of intertextuality. All utterances depend on or call to other utter- ances; no utterance itself is singular; all utterances are shot through with other, competing and conflicting voices.
As Bakhtin writes: the word is not a material thing but rather the eternally mobile, eter- nally fickle medium of dialogic interaction. It never gravitates toward a single consciousness or a single voice. The life of the word is con- tained in its transfer from one mouth to another, from one context to another context, from one social collective to another, from one generation to another generation. In this process the word does not forget its own path and cannot completely free itself from the power of those concrete contexts into which it has entered.
The word enters his context from another context, perme- ated with the interpretations of others. His own thought finds the word already inhabited. It is entangled, shot through with shared thoughts, points of view, alien value judgements and accents.
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The word, directed toward its object, enters a dialogically agitated and tensionfilled environment of alien words, value-judgements and accents, and weaves in and out of complex interrelationships, merges with some, recoils from others, intersects with a third group: and all this may crucially shape discourse, may leave a trace in all its semantic layers, may complicate its expression and influence its entire stylistic profile. As Bakhtin writes: at any given moment of its historical existence, language is heteroglot from top to bottom: it represents the co-existence of socio-ideological contradictions between the present and the past, between differing epochs of the past, between different socio-ideological groups in the present, between tendencies, schools, circles and so forth, all given a bodily form.
The discourse of characters in a polyphonic novel, we might say, exemplifies the intertextual or dialogic nature of language by always serving two speak- ers, two intentions, two ideological positions, but always within the single utterance. The attempt to understand and utilize such terms as heteroglossia is an example of the phenomenon to which I am referring.
If language is socially specific and thus embodies the stratifications, unfinalized interpretations, ideological positions and class conflicts at work in society in any epoch, and indeed at any specific moment, then no attempt to explain language or art through an abstract system of generalizable relations is viable for those wishing to understand language, art, even speech acts.
An attention to the role of literature and literary language was crucial to the rise of poststructuralist theory, nowhere more so than in the journal Tel Quel. What such an approach needs to avoid, in order to maintain such an objectivity, is any attention to the human subject who performs the utterance un- der 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. These are the hidden spaces within which Kristeva works and from which emerges her theory of intertextuality.
Poststructuralist theory in general, and the key writers associ- ated with the Tel Quel group in particular, view notions of a stable relationship between signifier and signified as the principal way in which dominant ideology maintains its power and represses revolutionary, or at least unorthodox, thought. God, for example, functions as a transcendental signified in most dominant religions; the role of this signifier is to refer only and always to itself, to the signified, the concept of the deity. To answer the question is to set up a series of new signifieds which are themselves subject to ques- tions concerning their reference and so to becoming signifiers for other signifieds.
Literature (The New Critical Idiom) - PDF Free Download
Creator, Father, Spirit, Supreme Being, Prime Mover and so on: all such answers to the initial question merely provide other signifieds which themselves become signifiers. Yet if we take almost any discourse which aspires to the condition of truth- fulness or objectivity we find the same linguistic phenomenon. Thus, almost all discourses attempt to stabilize the system of language by erasing the fact that language is always differential and cannot be stabilized or viewed as a coherent and ordered system see Derrida, — And yet, in all these cases the movement from signified to signifier undermines the apparent centrality and transparency of meaning of the major signs which are meant to stabilize the discursive system in question.
In the work of the Tel Quel group the text becomes the site of a resistance to stable signification. This is understood in Marxist terms as an attack on the commodification of thought and writing. As Barthes writes, placing Kristeva at the vanguard of such a movement: what Julia Kristeva produces is a critique of communication the first, I believe, since that of psychoanalysis.
Barthes, Communication and meaning, in other words, present knowledge and intellectual work as a product, a commodifiable and exchangeable object of value. Most people, it would be fair to say, believe that knowledge, if it exists, can be clearly communicated, and because of this it can be bought and sold in books, in educational courses and so on. In such a system, we might say, ideas are only valuable if they are consumable. With this attack on notions of communication in her mind, Kristeva sets out to establish a new mode of semiotics, which she calls semianalysis.
She attempts to capture in this approach a vision of texts as always in a state of production, rather than being products to be quickly consumed. In such work, Kristeva implies, ideas are not pre- sented as finished, consumable products, but are presented in such a way as to encourage readers themselves to step into the production of meaning.
It is, therefore, to this tradition that this new semiotics of productivity will most directly address itself. Kristeva, 87 Literature cannot be the privileged site of this radical mode of semiotic production. Such a move would also reinforce the traditional opposition between science objective discourse and fiction creative, literary discourse , whereas for Kristeva the point is that communication and that which breaks communica- tion apart — what Kristeva calls signifiance — are in a constantly antagonistic relationship with each other.
Kristeva, in this new semiotics, constantly places scientific and logical discourses within artistic and fictional contexts, thus self-consciously blur- ring the distinction and staging the struggle between science, or the logical, and the language or force of imagination and desire. In this sense, the text is not an individual, isolated object but, rather, a compilation of cultural textuality.
Individual text and the cultural text are made from the same textual material and cannot be separated from each other. Bakhtin and Kristeva share, however, an insistence that texts cannot be separated from the larger cultural or social textuality out of which they are constructed. All texts, therefore, contain within them the ideological structures and struggles expressed in society through discourse. If texts are made up of bits and pieces of the social text, then the on-going ideological struggles and tensions which characterize language and discourse in society will continue to reverberate in the text itself.
One of the consequences of this way of describing texts is that we must give up the notion that texts present a unified meaning and begin to view them as the combination and compilation of sections of the social text. As such, texts have no unity or unified meaning on their own, they are thoroughly connected to on-going cultural and social processes.
Kristeva writes: The concept of text as ideologeme determines the very procedure of a semiotics that, by studying the text as intertextuality, considers it as such within the text of society and history. The ideologeme of a text is the focus where knowing rationality grasps the transformation of utterances to which the text is irreducible into a totality the text as well as the insertions of this totality into the historical and social text. Kristeva, 37 Kristeva, in her characteristically complex mode of presenta- tion, refers here to our tendency to presume that texts possess a meaning unique to themselves.
Such an appearance of unity is illusory, however. Images concerned with dreams, mastery and the natural world also figure throughout the novel and might be said to help generate an internal meaning emanating from this sentence.
Kristeva is, in fact, interested less in the genre of the novel than in what she calls poetic language, something found by Bakhtin in the novel but which can be equally discovered in poetic genres and, as she will argue in later work, in other kinds of texts. She defines the dynamic literary word in terms of a horizontal dimension and a vertical dimension. The communication between author and reader is always partnered by a communication or intertextual relation between poetic words and their prior existence in past poetic texts.
Authors communicate to readers at the same moment as their words or texts communicate the existence of past texts within them. Yet, what appears as a lack of rigour is in fact an insight first introduced into literary theory by Bakhtin: any text is constructed as a mosaic of quotations; any text is the absorption and transformation of another. The notion of intertextuality replaces that of intersubjectivity, and poetic language is read as at least double.
We can note that the important distinction between utterance and [enunciation] is that the former term links that uttered to its human originator, whereas the latter term concentrates attention on to the verbal entity itself When I speak directly to someone else my words are, apparently, linked to me as a subject of utterance ; when I write those words down and they are read, perhaps years later, by someone else my position as a subject is no longer directly involved. The subject, as poststructuralists like Kristeva and Barthes are fond of declaring, is lost in writing.
Poststructuralists go further than this, however, and refer to a loss of the subject in language generally. However, the reality is that, so long as someone of appropriate social stature says these words, then the words will have the same effect upon reality. If a member of the audience with sufficient social standing were to change places with the specific speaker of the sentence, it would not at all affect the act of naming the ship.
The example of naming a ship might appear to involve a rather uncommon event, and thus not to be of particular relevance to language in its everyday use. However, poststructuralists argue that a similar substitutability occurs in all language use. Whenever subjects enter language they enter into situations in which their personal subjectivity is lost. What is clear is that when we are dealing with literary forms of writing we cannot presume that the language we are dealing with gives us direct access to the subject who wrote it.
In language, our subject positions shift; in writing, the subject is lost. In the above senses then, the word but also the subject-position of the person who speaks in literary language is double-voiced. Such a logic, stemming from Aristotle, works on the principle of non- contradiction. As Aristotle asserts, something cannot at one and the same time be something A and something else not-A. The dialogic word or utterance is double-voiced, heteroglot, and possesses a meaning A at the same moment that it possesses an alternative meaning or meanings not-A.
The unfinished work re- mained in manuscript form until it began to be rediscovered by certain theorists, the French theorist Jean Starobinski in par- ticular.
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Saussure, as he discovered more and more varieties of such coded patterns, coined more and more cognate terms to capture such processes. Something is what it is, or it is nothing. The double would be the minimal sequence of a paragrammatic semiotics to be worked out starting from the work of Saussure A whole host of additional vocabularies, linguistic, psychoanalytic and mathematical, al- lows Kristeva to appropriate Bakhtinian dialogism and to re- establish it upon the opposition between the monologic 0 - 1 and the dialogic 0 - 2.
If intertextuality stands as the ultimate term for the kind of poetic language Kristeva is attempting to describe, then we can see that from its beginning the concept of intertextuality is meant to designate a kind of language which, because of its embodi- ment of otherness, is against, beyond and resistant to mono logic. Such language is socially disruptive, revolution- ary even.
Hegelian dialectics depends upon the production of a synthesis out of the clash between a thesis and an antithesis. Dialectics, therefore, im- plies that human thought and society can transcend or leap to a totality of knowledge, a third position, which resolves prior con- flicts and ambivalences. What Bakhtin calls the dia- logic is cancelled in dialectics by the move to a new, transcen- dent monological position.
Marx famously adapted dialectics to argue that the clash of the proletariat and the owners of capi- tal would bring a revolutionary third position, a social order beyond the power-struggles between workers and capitalists. Dialogism replaces these concepts by absorbing them within the concept of relation. It does not strive towards transcen dence but rather toward harmony, all the while implying an idea of rupture of opposition and analogy as a modality of transformation.
The language of logic, reason and Law 0 - 1 is constantly ruptured, transformed and repositioned by that which cannot be confined within the logical, the meaningful or the literally communicable 0 - 2. To understand further what Kristeva does with such a position, and what implications it has for her account of the text and of intertextuality, we need to move away from her engagement with Bakhtin towards her develop- ment of semianalysis, a practice increasingly dependent on a psy- choanalytical theory of the subject in language.
Intertextuality has to do, for Kristeva, with desire and with the psychological drives of the split subject. For Kristeva, the subject is split between the conscious and the unconscious, reason and desire, the rational and the irrational, the social and the pre- social, the communicable and the incommunicable. Infants, at this early stage, do not make clear distinctions between themselves and those around them, principally the mother. With the acquisition of language, the subject enters into all the social positions and rules and relations which underpin society: the acquisition of language is associated by Lacan with the Father, the Law and ideas of unity, since language is always trying, if always failing, to fix subjects in specific linguistic and social positions.
Kristeva is greatly influenced by Lacanian psychoanalytical theory, as are many other members of the Tel Quel group.
As with all her theoretical influences, however, she takes a critical, revisionary attitude towards his model. It marks, then, a phase dominated by social norms in which language is presumed capable of presenting a thesis, a singular, unitary meaning. The subject, for Kristeva, is thus split between two signifying fields. The symbolic field involves socially signifying language operating under the banners of reason, communication and the ideal of singularity and unity. We do not, as adults, that is, lose completely our relation to the pre-speech infant fluidity of self.
This new model of the split subject in language describes the tension between a socialized, symbolic discourse and an unassimilable, anti-rational and anti-social semiotic language of instinctual and sexual drives. The language of logic and clear communication is disrupted by traces of the pre-logical and the uncommunicable.
For Kristeva, the moment in which Western art and literature begins to self-consciously unleash the force of the semiotic occurs at the end of the nineteenth century with the rise of Modernism. This break — Kristeva mentions Joyce, Proust, and Kafka — coincides with the rise of self-consciously intertextual art. This association between intertextuality and a radical form of writing which unleashes the pre-logical force of the semiotic is important to register. It follows an observable trend among the theorists associated with the Tel Quel group to attempt to fix a moment in literary history in which a self-consciously intertextual writing first emerges.
Barthes argues that explicitly intertextual writing comes to the fore in twentieth-century Modernism and avant-garde movements. Such explicitly intertextual forms of literature, Kristeva and Barthes argue, foreground the fact that they are not original works written by unique authors of great genius, but rather that they are the product of split subjects.
The answer seems to be that texts follow the same split movement between logical and alogical, symbolic and semiotic forces. No text, however radical, is purely semiotic; the semiotic always manifests itself within the symbolic. To mark this split nature of texts, Kristeva introduces two new terms: the phenotext and the genotext. The genotext disturbs, ruptures and undercuts the phenotext and thus articulates the drives and desires of a pre-linguistic subjectivity. This pre- linguistic subjectivity, although it does not itself possess a language, uses the languages of the symbolic order thetic language to make itself heard and felt.
In some texts — rational, scientific or legalistic texts, for example — the traces of the genotext will be almost completely obliterated. There he contrasts the experience of hearing technically proficient professional singers with more individu- alistic, idiosyncratic or less technically proficient singers. The linguistic subject is always split, determined posited, constructed, structured by the signifying system within which it speaks.
However, as has been implied, the pre-symbolic subject, the subject of drives rather than of thetic language, constantly announces itself in poetic language by breaking apart, or restructuring, the signifying systems within which it speaks and writes. Freud, in his analysis of dreams, argued that they tend to function through condensation and displacement. A ring in a dream might symboli cally condense ideas and desires concerning a host of aspects of life: marriage, religious faith, sexual desire, economic stability or instability.
Condensation and displacement can, then, be seen as two operations in the semiotic process. Kristeva, in Revolution in Poetic Language, styles intertextuality as a third operation within the semiotic process. The text you are reading attempts to be as clear as it can possibly be. The analysis you are reading attempts to transpose complex, often extremely difficult signifying systems into a communicable and logical structure: in this analysis, the phenotext dominates. What Kristeva calls transposition directly concerns this struggle to employ pre-existent signifying practices for different purposes.
Transposition plays an essential role here inasmuch as it implies the abandonment of a former sign system, the passage to a second via an instinctual intermediary common to the two systems, and the articulation of the new system with its new representability.
follow The sub- ject which speaks in a text is constructed in and by the specific transposition of signifying systems which make up the text. The subject position which any speaker or writer takes up is largely dependent upon the context in which that subject speaks or writes. Kristeva argues that it is in Modernist texts that this transpositional aspect begins to be self-consciously exploited. One of my mes is, I do believe, a true Christian — [only people call her socialist and communist], another of my mes is a wife and mother, and highly delighted at the delight of everyone else in the house How am I to reconcile all these warring members?
And so it is — only that it does not quite do. This can reach a point in Modernism and avant-garde writing where the very notion of a singular self, of a coherent identity for the au- thor, is abandoned. Intertextuality, or transposition, becomes that which foregrounds, celebrates and plays with the dissolution or abandonment of the single subject, a play which in the most radi- cal texts reaches a stage or state styled by Kristeva and Barthes as jouissance.
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What for Gaskell represents an anxiety-inducing lack of stable subject positioning becomes for Tel Quel theorists a liberatory release from the shackles of singular, monologic notions of iden- tity and of meaning. Plurality, of self as well as of meaning, is seen as the source of liberation and joy. It also resides in their incorporation of residual literary conventions outside the current novelistic norm, such as the dialogic forms of Menippean satire and carnivalesque forms generally.
As Simon Dentith argues: Kristeva effectively deracinates the signifying process, tearing it out of the dialogic encounter which is its only imaginable context for Bakhtin Dentith, 98 Dentith argues that the clash between Bakhtin and Kristeva has to do with two distinct notions of social liberation. The post-Revolutionary Russia of the s, s and beyond understandably produced different visions of liberation from that imagined in the heady days of communal revolt in late s Paris.
The important task, at least for a study such as this, is not to choose between theorists of intertextuality. It is, rather, to understand that term in its specific historical and cultural manifestations, knowing that any application of it now will itself be an intertextual or transpositional event. We can make this point even clearer by recognizing that intertextuality as a concept with a complex history presents us with a series of oppo- sitions between which we cannot simply decide.
The oppositions offer us a series of questions: Is intertextuality an historically informing term, or is it essentially ahistorical? Does intertextuality open the text to history, or to yet more textuality? Is intertextuality a manageable term, or is it essentially unmanageable, concerned with finite or infinite and overwhelming dimensions of meaning? Does intertextuality provide us with a form of knowledge, or does it destroy what was previously considered to be knowledge?
Is the centre of intertextuality in the author, the reader or the text itself? Does intertextuality aid the practice of interpretation, or resist notions of interpretation? We could devise more questions than are contained in this list. It should be clear, however, that they all bear upon a fundamen- tal distinction between knowledge, including socio-historical knowledge, and the rejection of the very idea of stable knowl- edge.
To study intertextuality and intertextual processes is to confront these and similar questions, which is perhaps why the term has spawned such a plethora of definitions and redefinitions. Our task is to engage with it as a split, multiple concept, which poses questions and requires one to engage with them rather than forcing one to produce definite answers. No theorist of intertextuality accepts this challenge more completely than Roland Barthes.
A textual scholar is still considered to be someone con- cerned with manuscript studies, with ascertaining a true text. A text is the material inscription of a work. It is that which gives a work permanence, repeatability and thus readability. In spite of the partial and modest character of the notion it is, after all, only an object, perceptible to the visual sense , the text partakes of the spiritual glory of the work, of which it is the prosaic but necessary servant Barthes, a: 32 Barthes is setting up the traditional viewpoint in order to open it to a new semiotic approach which will dramatically challenge the entire set of premises it contains.
The fundamental tension Barthes is referring to concerns notions of stability and security. Saussurean linguistics and the structuralism is engendered are the logical endpoint of this understanding. The text, as material writing, gives stability and security to the work, as intended meaning, because it stands in the relation of material signifier to the work as signified. The classical sign is a sealed unit, whose closure ar- rests meaning, prevents it from trembling or becoming double, or wandering. The same goes for the classical text: it closes the work, chains it to its letter, rivets it to its signified.
The paradox concerns the relationship between speech and writing, the manner in which the latter is supposed to be subservient to the former and yet continually struggles free from such a subservient position. Derrida articulates this in his Of Grammatology: Writing in the common sense is the dead letter, it is the carrier of death. It exhausts life. On the other hand, on the other face of the same proposition, writing in the metaphoric sense, natural, divine, and living writing, is venerated; it is equal in dignity to the origin of value, to the voice of conscience as divine law, to the heart, to sentiment, and so forth.
Questions of the translation, or transcription, of thoughts into writing become crucial here. The text exists to give stability to something which is presumed to come before it; writing merely helps the thought of the author to gain permanence. Throughout Western philosophical tradition, as Derrida argues in a series of ground-breaking works in the late s, this hierarchical division of the sign has been affirmed. It constitutes the basis of notions of meaning, of communication, but also of the self-presence of the human subject.
In that phrase the subject combines the signifier thought, speech with the signified the existence of the thinker and by so doing proves its ability to produce meaning, and thus proves the uniqueness and the presence in the world of its meaning-making consciousness. Derrida studies this tradition particularly in terms of the hierarchy established between speech and writing. This fact is that all signifiers refer to signifieds which themselves function as signifiers within language conceived, after Saussure, as a system of differences without positive terms. If language is a differential system in which meaning is generated by the relationship of signifiers within that system, then writing, rather than speech thought, intended meaning , is its appropriate and primary characteristic.
Even if Derrida were to speak his text we would not be able to decide between these meanings. A process of signifiance rather than a medium within which meaning is secured and stabilized, writing opens the sign up to an explosive, infinite and yet always already deferred dimension of meaning. We should not confuse text and work, writes Barthes: A work is a finished object, something computable, which can occupy a physical space take its place, for example, on the shelves of a library ; the text is a methodological field. The text is radically plural be- cause of the force of writing seen in its differential sense.
To have several meanings is merely to exhibit an ambiguity which, because each meaning involved in the ambiguity remains identifiable, ultimately can be resolved. Every text depends on a language within which is inscribed vast histories of meaning. Barthes writes: The plural of the Text depends The reader of the Text may be compared to someone at a loose end. Barthes, a: The theory of the text, therefore, involves a theory of intertextuality, since the text not only sets going a plurality of meanings but is also woven out of numerous discourses and spun from already existent meaning.
Like the genotext, it has to be created anew in each reader, the observer being part of the observed. Barthes describes the text as: woven entirely with citations, references, echoes, cultural languages what language is not? If we are to understand what Barthes has in mind by this relativization we need to progress somewhat further in our understanding of the text and of its consequence for the traditional site of authority and origination of the superseded work, the author.
We also need to look at the textual analysis Barthes creates and how this practice of reading conceived as re-writing depends upon the developing theory of intertextuality. As an event, if we can figure it as such, the death of the Author has been much bemoaned by those wishing to hold on to the idea that human beings retain a degree of agency, of choice, or at least rational thought in history and society. In the modern market system, the name of the author allows the work to be an item of exchange value, but it also, Barthes argues, promotes a view of interpretation, and of the relationship between author, work and the reader-critic, in which reading is a form of consumption.
The author places meaning in the work, so traditional accounts argue, and the reader-critic consumes that meaning; once this process has been accomplished the reader is free to move on to the next work. This process of interpretation as it is normally understood fosters the capitalist market system because it encourages us to view works as disposable, or at least finite, commodities.
Barthes writes: The Author, when believed in, is always conceived of as the past of his own book: book and author stand automatically on a single line divided into a before and an after. The Author is thought to nourish the book, which is to say that he exists before it, thinks, suffers, lives for it, is in the same relation of antecedence to his work as a father to his child. Yet all such references to the rhetoric of filiation reinforce the illusion that a text possesses and conveys a meaning imparted to it by its author, and thus that the text has a unity which stems directly from the unified and original thought of its creator.
Against such a naturalized image of the author Barthes pits the theory of the text. Like his Tel Quel colleagues, Barthes constructs this theory out of a number of different discourses: psychoanalytic, linguistic, structural, deconstructive, Marxist. The French author La Rochefoucauld —80 once argued that if there were no novels, no one would ever fall in love see Barthes, ix. Meaning occurs because of the play of signifiers, not because a signified can be found to stabilize a signifier; the signified is always, as it were, over the horizon.
Meaning comes not from the author but from language viewed intertextually. Barthes, a: Such pronouncements have caused many to argue against Barthes, believing it fatuous to transfer all agency to language itself see Bloom, a: Such theoretical state- ments as the above appear to give all agency to language viewed intertextually. Likewise, as we have noted, Barthes recognizes that not every modern author chooses to become a scriptor. The tension between theory and history is clearly a persistent one, and we will return to it at the end of this Chapter. The intertextual nature of writing and of the text turns both terms of the traditional model, author and critic, into readers.
Yet this destination cannot any longer be personal: the reader is without history, biography, psychology; he is simply that someone who holds together in a single field all the traces by which the written text is constituted Barthes, a: There are questions generated even here, however. The poststructuralism of Barthes, Kristeva and Derrida moves away from structuralism, with its belief in the possibility of a totalizing or scientific methodology, by privileging and pro- moting notions of difference.
Is not the reader, lost amongst difference, writing, intertextuality, the figure which poststructuralism posits against earlier totalized visions of mean- ing? Yet, the tensions and contradictions stem from a recognition, shared by all three, of the never-resolved struggle between truth and its subversion, between myth and its critique, between what Kristeva calls the phenotext and the genotext and what Barthes calls the doxa and the para-doxa.
To fully engage with his texts, it is insufficient to merely locate contradictions and tensions and then to make choices within them. However, before we come on to that subject directly, we need to engage with the practice of textual analysis developed by Barthes. Each individual narrative, then, was seen as a parole, a particular act of narration produced by operating the langue of the narrative system itself.
Structural analysis did not, for Barthes, pay sufficient attention to the power of the signifier or to the plurality of meaning which the text unleashes. It also presumed a stable distinction between text and reader which the theory of text and of intertextuality shatters.
The theory of the text refocused attention on meaning. Thus textual analysis is often posited not as a critique of structuralism but as something new within the structuralist movement. The textual analysis Barthes developed retained a commitment to the exploration of the structure of the text, its fundamental elements and units of combination, but also put this structure within the context not of a closed narrative system but of the intertextual, within which no closure, no finite system, is available.
The text has a structure of definable elements, and yet, woven from the threads of the social text, its intertextual relations can never be stabilized, exhaustively located and listed. The text combines structure and an infinity of meaning. Some of the most impressive examples of textual analysis produced by Barthes are based on readings of literary works which are, on the historical argument, very much classifiable as works rather than modern texts.
We will look at these examples in more detail. This readerly text leads the reader towards a meaning, it creates the illusion that it is produced by a singular voice and underplays the force of the intertextual Barthes, Readerly texts thus reinforce cultural myths and ideologies which Barthes symbolizes through the term doxa. It is not coincidental that Barthes chooses to analyse texts which have for their main narrative plot some kind of search for the truth.
The experiment had in fact succeeded in allowing M. Valdemar to make a statement never before made in human history: in a mesmeric state, after the time which his doctors had agreed would see his death, M. The doctor, whilst M. The story begins with the narrator at a party given by the wealthy Lanty family. The narrator is enamoured of a young woman. When she sees and is shocked by the appearance of a man of extreme old age, the narrator forms a contract with the young woman: he will divulge to her the identity of the old man in exchange for one night of passion.
The story of Sarrasine is thus framed by certain enigmas: not only is it concerned to explain the identity of the old man, but in the answer to that enigma the origin of the wealth of the Lanty family will also be divulged. The answer to both of these enigmas is in the story of a sculptor, Sarrasine, who, in visiting Rome falls in love with what he takes to be a beautiful young female singer at the theatre.
Sarrasine does not know that women are banned from the Roman stage and that the singer, Zambinella is in fact a castrato. He makes a statue and is finally driven, refusing to believe the growing evidence of the real nature of his love, into a plot to kidnap Zambinella. The old man, so disgusting to the sight of the young woman, is in fact Zambinella. The statue of female beauty created by Sarrasine, and copied by painters subsequently, and the disgusting old man at the party turn out to be the same person.
The young woman is so shocked by the truth the nothingness that is revealed by the narrative that she breaks the contract with the narrator and so, herself symbolically castrated by the story, also symbolically castrates, or makes nothing of, the desire that has driven the narrator to tell the story in the first place. The text is a fantastically rich resource for Barthes to plunder.
The story of an artist, Sarrasine, attempting to find the truth behind the appearance of Zambinella mirrors the ethos of the realist novel and still dominant ideas concerning language. The story seems to confirm that language can display a reality if we can penetrate behind its surface appearance Barthes, Again, as Barthes demonstrates, the readerly text threatens to explode into something writerly, plural, paradoxical. It is important to note that for Barthes a pure text, in the sense of a completely writerly text, is a utopian notion see b: 76— 7. In the contract between the narrator and the young woman, Sarrasine thematizes the fact that narration, telling stories, is always a contract; the narrative itself, that which is readerly, is always an object of exchange-value.
Barthes divides the text into lexias, small segments which can be a word, a phrase, a piece of action, one sentence, or a small group of sentences. Each lexia contains a limited number of meanings, sometimes only one, never more than four. In the structural analysis of narrative a text is cut up into segments in order to demonstrate how those segments relate to the rules of combination and association which are presumed to form the langue of narrative.
From a structuralist point of view such an element, once noticed, must either be a functional signifier of a set of signifieds danger, threat or ultimately become part of the overall action; in the play Hedda Gabler does, in fact, finally use the gun to devastating effect. Meaning is not a question in structural analysis of this variety, where every signifier is finally provided with a signifying place in the total system. Barthes cuts the text into lexias but, instead of explaining them, regrouping them at a higher level and thus closing off their meaning, he strives to detonate their meanings without any sense that these meanings can be contained at some higher level of analysis.
The text, after all, is a plural phenomenon; it has structure, yet also an infinity of meaning. For additional information, see the Global Shipping Program terms and conditions - opens in a new window or tab. Special financing available. Any international shipping is paid in part to Pitney Bowes Inc. Learn More - opens in a new window or tab International shipping and import charges paid to Pitney Bowes Inc.
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