the forerunners of those produced by theintertextualists of our postmodernity. I will thentake a number of examples in order to illustratethe way in which the notion of intertextuality canbe tested
. Those examples will also helpme to introduce some of the conclusions I havecome to, and point to the directions in whichfurther theoretical explorations should perhaps bemade. Let it be clear that as an intertextualistmyself, though no hardliner, I lay no claim to anyoriginality, especially in my attempts tocircumscribe the problem, clarify definitions,defend and illustrate the concept of intertextuality.
There is no doubt that this concept was notcreated
out of the fertile brain of JuliaKristeva. But she was the first to use it in printin an article on Bakhtin, whom she had read inRussian while still a student in Bulgaria, beforeshe settled in France.
The late 1960s were inParis the years when the human sciences madea quantum leap forward in all directions, with anumber of hyper-active, avant-gardist, mostlyleftist intellectuals trying to apply the theoriesand methodologies of those sciences to the studyof literature. Foremost were the fast-developingsciences of post-Saussurean linguistics (RomanJakobson, Émile Benveniste), post-Freudianpsychoanalysis (Jacques Lacan), semiology(Roland Barthes) and anthropology (Claude Levi-Strauss). It was the heyday of theorists, theyears of transition from structuralism to post-structuralism (not clearly distinguished fromwhat later came to be known as postmodernism)with also Jacques Derrida, Louis Althusser,Michel Foucault all at work, the years when allforms of authority were challenged (andsometimes equated) – the Government, deGaulle, God, tradition, capitalism, reason, thereigning
, the Establishment, the Author, theSorbonne mandarins, the police, etc. They werethe years that led to the great libertarian subversiveexplosion of May 1968 in France, echoed andsometimes amplified in the campuses of manyother countries, notably in Prague, in Belfast,and in North America.Any assessment of Julia Kristeva’s launchingof the notion of intertextuality must surely beginby recalling the social and political context of the 1960s, but also the specific context of thedevelopment of the problematics of the linguisticsign, of the concept of enunciation, and of allthe theoretical work done on the notion of
, which Kristeva was soon to define as“
” (the subject conceived atthe same time “in the making” and “on trial”).The order of the sign being radically differentfrom that of the referent, the sign itself beingsplit into signifier and signified, the very notionof meaning as something fixed and stable, eventhough it sometimes had to be deciphered, waslost and replaced by that of the sliding, shifting,floating signified. Meaning could no longer beviewed as a finished product, it was now caughtin a process of production. The subject of theenunciation was to be distinguished from thesubject of the utterance (
sujet de l’énoncé
), andall the imaginary representations of a solid,identifiable self, or ego, in control of languageand capable of expressing himself, weredenounced and replaced by the notion of asubject intermittently produced by his
–literally spoken by language.Dealing with intertextuality, it is quite normalto start with Kristeva, but one of the difficulties
Mention must be made, among the books that I havefound helpful, of Michael Worton and Judith Still, eds.,
Intertextuality, Theories and Practices
(Manchester:Manchester UP, 1990), Heinrich F. Plett, ed.,
(Berlin & New York: Walter de Gruyter, 1991);Graham Allen,
(London: Routledge, 2000);and Vincent B. Leitch, ed.,
The Norton Anthologyof Theory and Criticism
(New York & London:W. W. Norton & Co., 2001).
Julia Kristeva, “Bakhtine, le mot, le dialogue et leroman,”
(Paris, 1967, 33, 239), 438–465.