Presupposition and Intertextuality Author(s): Jonathan Culler Source: MLN, Vol. 91, No. 6, Comparative Literature (Dec., 1976), pp.

1380-1396 Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2907142 Accessed: 04/08/2010 15:13
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an article must say something which one has not already explicitly thoughtor read but must be related in some positiveway to what one has in the past thoughtor read. propositions. take evasive action. and that consequentlythere can be no talk of the general presuppositions of an articleor of the general expectationsof readers which willgive itmeaning. If he pressed us on this point and asked us what we meant by that we "significant. it whichdoubtless to will be difficult describe. should not we have done much to advance his understanding. of which is already in place and which creates the possibility new work." should no doubt have to reply.why people read articles in academic journals. But even ifit is thus personalized. are different.forwe should still have to tell him somethingabout this discursivespace or order of words which we call literarycriticismand explain that an article offersignificant should.pose thatyou had to explain to an outsider. For an article to be significant muststand in a relationship. but if he did continue to question we should findit to extremelydifficult explain preciselywhat are the expectations withwhichwe approach an articleon an aspect of literary criticism and how such an articleis rendered intelligible and significant a by whole body of already existing discourse. One would hope that any real strangerwould by this time have become bored.to say thatthe expectations of each individual reader.impatiently. we would be to tempted. withinthis framework.a strangerfroma culture whichknew nothingabout such matters. as individual. How willyou. It would not be an easy task. an enterprise. If we were to tellthis activity strangerthat an article in a literaryperiodical is expected to instructus in some aspect of the studyof literature. Indeed.knowwhetherwhat I MLN 91 (1976) 1380-1396 ? Press Copyright1976 byTheJohns Hopkins University Allrights reproductionanyform in of reserved.I think. in general terms. what sort of expectations bring them to engage in this and whatexpectationstheybringto it. whyyou are reading this article. Withinthe contextof what is or known.it must propose modifications elaborations. TUALITY RESUPPOSITION i JONATHAN CULLER AND INTERTEX0 Sup- .the question remainsdifficult. for you would have to explain. like his knowledge. to a body of discourse.

thatwhichmustbe revealed byanother. very shortly.for example. then. cannot cite a source. So even thisretreatfromthe general to the individual-an evasion one respectsin thatit bears the marksof truth-even thisdoes not offer easy answers. Postulatinggeneral expectations.he cannot live or act by it. cannot accept it as truth.refutes.about the state of literarystudies as manifestedin the of intersubjectivity his audience.evaluate it in relation to the criticalenterprise. certainlynot a question of what he has in mind. what must it assume to take on significance? a essentiallyor even primarily question of what the writerknows. I offerit and its situationas an example of the necessarilyintertextual nature of formalutteranceand of the of formulating difficulty presuppositionsor of describingintertexto Even for simple factswhich we know quite explicitly be tuality.or by an effort of thinkingfromthe point of view of the other. prolongs. however difficult you may find it to formulate these normsand expectations. In saying that my article is intelligible only in termsof a prior body of discourse-other projectsand thoughtswhich it implicitly takes up.you willmake a judgment about the significanceof this article. we presuppositions. In the act of writing or speaking he inevitablypostulates an intersubjectivebody of knowledge. How do we know thatan . When he speaks or writes. it is not an option which can alwaysbe exercized: the lectureror writerof an article. indeed. dedoublement: I do not. propose to describe the presuppositionsof my own discourse. You will. Rather. and indeed it is a characteristic experience that one's presuppositions are best revealed by another. for the relevant presuppositionsmaybe deeply sedimentedin his past or in the past of his discipline. for the author or lecturerdoes it. and explicitknowledgewhichwillmake his discourse intelimplicit ligible. of perhaps.cannot be an impossiblethingto do. Moreover.M L N 1381 or say is significant not? What are the individual expectationsand normswhichwill enable you to make such a judgment? It is worth pointingout that. They are.his discourse makes a decision about a general and implicitcontract.We can pose the problem another way by asking what a piece of writingpresupposes? What does it This is not assume.about what is known and what will be significant.transforms-I have or explicitly and posed the problem of intertextuality asserted the intertextual nature of any verbal construct. he cannot avoid doing it.cites.

Semiotike (Paris.1382 JONATHAN CULLER This is articleis supposed to tell us somethingnew and significant? not exactlythe fruitof experience. like the conventionof significance.. the necessaryinferencefrom the overwhelming evidence of past cases. On the conthe notion of intertextuality names the paradox of linguistic trary. as Julia Kristevasays.S/Z (Paris. vu. p. accident."3 The notionof intertextuality emphasizes thatto read is to place a workin a discursivespace. du une est d'autres textes. relatingitto othertextsand to the codes itself a similaractivity: takingup of a is a of thatspace. p. fait.Even in such simple cases.vecu: le code est le sillon de ce deja. 1969). 146. s'approche texte deja lui-meme pluralit6 de codes infinis. 3 Julia Kristeva. 16. are the representatives of a general intertextuality which Roland Barthes has described: anterieur texte. is not to be thoughtof as a simple but unfortunate origin It is not thateveryconventionor momentof a code had a determito nate origin which happens to be difficult discover. Ibid. 28.to have lostorigins. and writing 1 Roland Barthes. Indeed.once we thinkof a textas in and significant termsof other textswhich it absorbs intelligible then "a la place de la notion d'intersubjectivite and transforms..It is difficult explain what it is that enables us to make sense of a new instanceof discourse. nor is it part of an original covenant of the discipline. in whom these conventionsdwell. 1970)."2 Intertextualityis less a name for a work's relationto particularprior texts in than an assertionof a work'sparticipation a discursivespace and of its relation to the codes which are the potential formalizations thatspace.Readers. Ce "moi"qui au je n'estpas un sujetinnocent. s'installecelle d'intertextualite.we where conventions and are faced with an infiniteintertextuality cannot be traced to theirsource and thus positivispresuppositions ticallyidentified.and it is the nature of codes to be always already in to existence. plus exactement: ou perdus (dont l'originese perd).but whatever intelligibilitydiscursivesequence achieves depends on intera textual codes: "autant d'eclats de ce quelque chose qui a toujours ete deja lu. 2 .. then. and discursivesystems: thatutterancesor textsare never moments of origin because theydepend on the prior existenceof codes and conventions.1 have a lost That conventions. p.

"De 1'oeuvreau texte. industrie: l'ecriture-lecture. codes whoseoriginsare lost. et seraitl'aspirationvers une agressivite une participationtotale.Indeed.et cependant dejdlues". it ously the special conventionsand alerts one to the artificeof literature. p. irreperables. p.M L N 1383 positionin a discursivespace. 181.an act of absorption."5 and thus designatesthe domain common to writing Intertextuality as the domain of the intertextual. Barthes has specifically ing study of the intertextualwith source-hunting:"les citations dont est fait un texte sont anonymes. but it proves itself. rather than as autonomous artifact reconciles the possible attitudestowards a given problem.nevertheless. interprimacyof this space for any systematic of is a theoretical construct the first importance."4Writingis the historical toire."6 In its designation of a discursivespace and its assertion of the studyof discourse. Idem. The consequences of the notionof intertextuality rich. on whichit is based.and it is textuality not withoutdirectpracticalconsequences. the crucial thingis thattheyfunctionas "already read.The study of intertextuality not the of sources and influences..as traditionally conceived. praxis of reading made visible:"'Ecrire' seraitle 'lire' devenu prol'ecriture paragrammatique duction. It leads one to thinkof a text as a dialogue with other texts.for the text in question. investigation it casts itsnet wider to include the anonymous discursivepractices. and a description of reading would involvethe most general and mostsignificant intertextuality considerations:the relationshipbetween a text and the languages or discursive practices of a culture and its relationship to those particulartextswhich. 6 Barthes. parody.whichare the conditions possibility of of warned againstconfuslater texts. 5 .as if it were the nature of intertex4 Ibid. "Par sa maniere d'ecrire en lisantle anterieurou synchroniquel'auteur vit dans l'hiscorpus litteraire et la societe s'ecrit dans le texte.an extremely undoubtedly difficult concept to work with. and it makes one parinterpretive operations of ticularlysensitive to the special referentiality literaryworks: to whenevera workseems to be referring the world one can argue thatthissupposed referenceis in facta commenton othertextsand of postpone the referentiality the fictionto another moment or are anotherlevel. which harmoniand criticism. 229." Revue d'esthetique (1971). articulatethatculis ture and its possibilities.

lends itself to a detailed study of the relationshipbetween undeniable sources (usually in Pascal. comme soit citation texte estrepris desarticule la lettre et a dans les (le etranger Particularly strikingis Kristeva'sdecision to use as her "exemple de cet espace intertextuel est le lieu de naissance de la frappant qui poesie" Lautreamont'sPoesies. C'est dire que tout presuppose texte est d'emblee sous la jurisdiction des autres discours qui lui to imposent un univers. p. 1974) pp. absorbepar le parasoit une la (l'ocan-Baudelaire? gramme poetique comme reminiscence le le et Lamartine? pelican-Musset?. de sorte que dans l'enonce poetique plusieurs autres discours sont lisibles. the intertextuality Lautreamont'sChants of deMaldoror and Poesiesis describedas a dialogue withtexts whichare in principle(and generallyin practiceas well) identifiable: Le texteetranger. or La Rochefoucauld) and transformation. 337-58). itscodes and conventions. 8 Poesies). and anyone under the impressionthatthe whole point of intertex7 Kristeva.. It is instructive consider what happens when a proponent of to like intertextuality Julia Kristeva undertakes the descriptionof a work's intertextualspace.whichcontains a verylarge number of explicit negations or deformationsof identifiablemaxims and sententiae.l'enfant. 10Ibid. 338-9. 9 Ibid."7But it is difficult make that universe as such the object of attention. Kristeva.1384 JONATHAN CULLER tual space.Semiotike. evade description. in particular. "son statuten tantque pratique signifiante l'existencedes autres discours . pp. 194.."8To show this is to identifyspecifically these other discourses. as we to saw earlier. Lautreamont'sPoesiesare taken as the principal example of in and intertextuality Semiotike are used as the only example in the discussionof"Le contextepresuppose"in La Revolution langage du poetique (pp.9 . est objet de la "raillerie".10Poesies II. p.. 255..so there is a tendencyto narrow the intertextualdomain and to speak of specificworks which a text takes up: "Le signifiepoetique renvoie a des signifiesdiscursifs autres. fossoyeur-Musset? toutle code du romantisme desarticule dans lesChants).Thus.If. Vauvenargues."she writes. 225-6. "Quel que soit le contenu semantique d'un texte. lune.it is alreadydifficult describethe intertextuality an to of articleabout literary criticism-a formof discourse which is highly institutionalized governed by an elaborate code of professional and what willone be able to say of the more radical and practice-then literature? complex acts of thatexceedinglyevasive institution. Revolution La du langagepoetique (Paris.

so on into words. those worldof literary thedensely language.13 This is the case because prior linguisticacts are the ground. . because it illustratesthe direction in highlyinstructive.. and Harold Bloom. leads the criticwho wishes to which the concept of intertextuality based on the contentionthattexts"se font workwithit. Kristeva.. editions Pascal. is Harold Bloom. pp 2-3.La Revolution langagepoetique.Anypoemis overpopulated of and an inter-poem. 1976). who has emOne criticwho has unhesitatingly and braced the concept of intertextuality compressed it to a relabetween a textand a particularprecursortext. it has an ascertainable to without reference otherpoetictexts. p.between a tionship poet and his major predecessor. les versions gues. Poetry Repression (New Haven. 343. The French would have no quarrel with Bloom's proponentsof intertextuality formulationwhen he asserts the intertextualnature of text and meaning: to Fewnotions moredifficult dispelthanthe"commonsensical" are that one thata poetictextis self-contained. poemsare not things onlywordsthatreferto and other words refer still to and other words.and thus criticalpractice pre-texts itselfguides the critictowardsthe claim that "le texte poetique est et produit dans le mouvementcomplexe d'une affirmation d'une simultaneesd'un autre texte. the of conditionsof possibility one's own discursiveactions.257. du p.What hapBloom asks. pens.de Vauvenarde seraitnecessaire d'6tablir quelles car Ducasse a pu utiliser.11 varient beaucoup or The point is not that such questions are uninteresting insignificantbut only that a situation in which one can track down sources with such precision cannot serve as the paradigm for a is if descriptionof intertextuality. Kristeva'sprocedure is however.. 12 13 1 Kristeva.SemiotikW.de la Rochefoucauld. or meaning meanings but Unfortunately."'2 negation taken this road. a d'une edition une autre. anyreading a poemis an inter-reading.M L N 1385 tualitywas to take us beyond the study of identifiablesources is broughtup shortby Kristeva'sobservationthat le avec le textedes Poesies il Pour comparer textepresuppos6 II. intertextuality the general discursive space which makes a text possible. A criticism en absorbantet en detruisanten meme temps les autres textesde seems happiestwhen itcan identify particular 1'espaceintertextuel" with which the work wrestles.

A Map ofMisreading and Bloom. You cannotwrite teachor think evenread without or or imitation. Poetry Repression.while proclaimingthe dependence of everytexton other texts. p. nothing all happens.comprehensibleonly and sublimates. for. intertextual not a space of anonymity the is and banalbut of heroic struggles betweena sublimepoet and his dominant ity it. who will as go on to name precursorsand describe the titanicstruggleswhich take place on the battlefieldof poetic tradition. on the contrary.whose livesare generated by an infinite networkof anonymouscitations. 32.the divinating over oblivion").'as I interpret is not a gatheringof on a page. is to keep everything the family.14 that Here we can already detectthatshift fromtextsto persons which willassume greaterimportanceuntilit becomes the centralfeature it of of Bloom's theory.thatperson's or or or to writing teaching thinking reading.Bloom can proclaimintertextuality with a fervor less circumspect than Barthes's.has grounds for is enthusiasm. for Barthes's as tautologous naming of the intertextual the "deja lu" is so anticlimactic to preclude excitedanticipations.it produces a cosiness which even a Kabbalisticrhetoriccannot disguise. one might say.Intertextuality is the family archive. . whattheseothertextsare theyturnout to be the centralpoems of a 14 15 (New York. Bloom. 2. while Bloom.1386 JONATHAN CULLER ifone tries write to teachor to think. setting in radical oppostion to the theory his French predecessors. completes.when one explores itone stayswhollywithinthe traditionalcanon of major poets. but when we ask longs. just nothing. but is a psychicbattlefieldupon which authentic signs forces strugglefor the only victory worthwinning.It is a daring move.15 triumph Turning fromtextsto persons. evento read without to or or thesenseof a tradition? at Why. The text is an intertextual conin termsof other textswhich it prostruct. transforms.For Bloom. p. The function Bloom's theoryof of influence. 1975). and what is youimitate whatanother personhas done. Indeed. the model for textualproductionis Bouvard and Pecuchet. his use of intertextuality a daring move whichcannot but temptthe criticwho is frustrated the prospect by of workingin a Barthesian space of infinite and anonymous citations.Your relation what informs personis tradition. For Barthes. predecessor ("A poetic 'text.certainlythe functionof the Freudian analogies which in structureit.

whythe intertextual should be compressed to a relationshipbetween two individuals. by an occult process which.It is fromthisfamily deof intertextuality sublime poets. . 70. even iftheephebenever an indubitable precursor.interis narrowed to the point where it is a relationshipbetextuality tweena given poem and the great precursorpoem whichthe poet to was striving overcome. and you have your intertextual ticulations can be described by a series of variouslynamed figures. But in factby this point Bloom's theoryabandons that claim and implies that the relationshipbetween text and pretextis one perceived by the interpreter: and bothtautology reAntithetical criticism mustbeginbydenying of that a duction.And ifwe ask whythisshould be so. In describingBloom's theoryI am seeking not so much to attack him as to evade him. denialbestdelivered theassertion themeaning by And not a poemcan onlybe a poem.M L N 1387 singlegreatprecursor. but totalarbitrariness.16 of To read an author's poem as a misinterpretation a poem which a he never read is simplyan act of interpretation. that Bloom's intertextuality rives. anycentral nota poemchosenwith poemby readthatpoem. decision by the criticthat valuable meaning and energy will be produced if one poem is applied to the other.Locate the key precursor text. the intertextualauthority. of Anxiety Influence. but on what I shall call "application": the rubbing presupposition. the precursoris the greatoriginal.There are originsafterall. we are dealingwithprimal but and words. The (New York. pace A Map of Misreading. Cast in this form.butanother poem-apoem itself. antithetical meanings. togetherof two textsin order to release energy. a space whose aranalysed. make it possible. 1973). irrelevant is Sourcestudy wholly here. The decision to use only one textto the constitute intertextual space of anotheris revealed as a decision 16 Bloom. p.the answer seems to be that a man can have only one father:the scenario of the familyromance gives the poet but one romance.thiscosyand murderous progenitor. an ephebe'sbestmisinterpretations maywellbe of poemshe has neverread. for and ultimatelyhis theory bears not on tradition.it is stilla theoryof one intertextuality: makingthe strongclaim that forthe poet only a handful of prior textscondition his discourse.remains to be space.Though his theory and looks like an account of intertextuality presupposition.intertextuality.to step aside and let him go rushingpast.

notion of intertextuality: is a difficult it concept to use because of the vastand undefineddiscursivespace itdesignates. eration of criticsto read poems as acts of self-saving He is also to be admired for raisingso forcefully and frequently but the problemof intertextuality. specificpresuppositionsabout what is already known and unknown. 30.. which work togetherto constitutesomethinglike a lanof systems convention. is unfortunately more complicatedthan the model of sublime ity poets suggest.in the end. the dangers which threatenthe very nicely.Intertextualguage. on a text'srelationto specificprecursors?An obvious strategy to folis 17 Ibid. Asserting that "humane letters" is an oxymoron. How could one investigate of intertextuality this sort? How could one avoid the danger of and settingout to studyintertextuality focusing. In fact. Bloom's procedure reveals in its grandiose way. that "the imagination's gift comes necessarilyfrom the perversity the spirit"and that the of main tradition Westernpoetrysince the Renaissance "is a history of of anxiety and self-savingcaricature.intertextuality conventionsof a genre.as the example of a criticalarticle will alinvolvesmany things:explicit ready have indicated. discursivepossibilities.but when one narrowsit so as to make it more usable one either fallsinto source kind (which is what the constudyof a traditionaland positivistic was designed to transcend)or else ends by naming particular cept textsas the pre-texts grounds of interpretive on convenience. Indeed. .his effortsare primarilyresponsible for reinvigoratinginterpretive criticism."17-with caricature. pp. those of us who lack his strength mustcontendwiththe factthatpoems do seem to presuppose more than a single precursor poem: what makes possible reading and writingis not a single anterior action which serves as origin and moment of plenitude but an open series of acts. wilfulrevisionism withoutwhich modern poetryas such could not assertionslike these Bloom will inspirea whole genexist. 85.1388 JONATHAN CULLER made for purposes of interpretation and not as a motivatedaxiom of the theoryof intertextuality. Bloom's effortsare not to be dismissed: on the contrary.and broad assumptionsabout the preoccupation and goals of a type of discourse. both identifiable and lost.of perverse. more general expectations and interpretive operations. 86. of distortion.which had lost its sense of purpose as the moderate humanismof the New Criticism came to seem dated.

The formerare best thoughtof as the presuppositionsof a sentence. In discussingthe presuppositionsat work in a natural language to finditconvenient distinguish betweenlogical and pragmatlinguists ic presupposition. at tinued. including and names(John thatFred has a sister married Fred's sister presupposes the Fredgave himtoreadpresupposes the existence Johnlost paperthat of a paper that Fred gave John to read). 45. ..one might think about the notion of presupposition in linguisticsand the literary analogues it suggests. certainaspectuals (John [or constopped century. "Two Types of Presuppositionin Natural Language. 1971). It surprised that me John a car presupposes thatJohn a car.non-restrictive nineteenth is decrepit). called). also are logically impliesS'. p.Thus. subordinate clauses (John before caught left Mary temporal in which built the was relativeclauses (Thehotel.M L N 1389 low the linguistic model as far as one can. resumed] (Johncalled again). Terence Langedoen (New York. Semantics. We can also extend this did notion of logical presuppositionto questions (Where he go? prethat he went somewhere) by sayingthat the presupposisupposes tionsof a question are those sentenceswhichare the logical presuppositionsof everyone of its answers. -S."18Presuppositions whatmustbe truein order thata proposition either be trueor false. and definite as whichfunction all those syntactic constructions names.which is not defined in termsof in speaker's or author's beliefs. cleftsentences(It wasJohn thethief). writing twoo'clock). 19For discussion and see examples of these constructions ibid. pp.introducesa modest intertextuality sentencesof a textto another set of sentences which they relating presuppose.19 This notion of presupposition.An explicitdefinition logical presupof positionis as follows:"A sentenceS logicallypresupposes a sentence S' just in case S logically impliesS' and the negationof S." in Studies Linguistic in ed.iteratives but presuppositionalquantifiers(Everyone Johndied). Keenan. in particular. Charles Fillmoreand D. A whole series of grammaticalconstructions and lexical items carry presuppositionsof this sort: factive who predicates(as in the example above).as when we recognize that Have you stopped is wife? a loaded question because any answer one gives beating your assentsto whatthe sentencepresupposes: thatone previously made a habitof beatingone's wife.as does It didn't bought surprise bought methat a Johnbought car. This kind of presuppositionis of considerable impor18 Edward L. 46-8.

20 Baudelaire.21 en by presupposing this fact about the poet he takes up a different it to relationship it: treating as priordiscourse.20 and when he carries on in temporal subordinateclauses for three assertions stanzas. Again." he would be claiming to have discoveredsomethingabout the world. 70. narrativewhich located thisfactin an experientialcontext.justification.logical presuppositionis an intertextual operator which implies a discursive context and which. to relegate them to the intertext pre-text. If Baudelaire had begun "Parfoisle ciel bas et sky lourd pese comme un couvercle. Presupposition opens an intertextual space which can easily become ironic.to them as part of the deja lu. . a sentenceexcept assertionmade by its surface structurepredithe cate. the presuppositions a sentenceare all those of propositionswhich it and its negation logicallyentail.then we can thattheyconsistof all the assertionsmade by say.partof the intertext. by identifying an modifiesthe way in which the poem must be read. In cases like this. Oeuvres completes. p. when Baudelaire begins a poem Quand le cielbas et lourdpese commeun couvercle en Sur l'esprit g6missant proieaux longsennuis. Thus. intertext. p.more informally. 1961).1390 JONATHAN CULLER If tance in literature. 7.and we mightexpect explaa nation. 21Ibid. when Baudelaire begins "Benediction" with des supremes Lorsquepar un decret puissances Le Poeteapparait ce mondeennuye. Le Dantec & Pichois (Paris. In poetryit makes a difference whethera propositionis asserted ed.The decision to presuppose undermines referenat tiality thislevel by treatingthe factin question as already given. to a place. a mythof the poet which he can cite. It is of considerable importance which propositionsa work chooses to assertdirectly and whichitchooses to place in thisintertextual space by presupposing them. as the lid of a pot. as a set of sentencesalready in identify There is implicitreference to prior poetic discourse. even though no poet may ever have described the poetic tradition.he is choosing to presuppose the mostimportant or of his discourse.he opens the question of the mode in which his poem will treat this prior discourse..

WilliamBlake. and to have suggested (even though we know of no other poem whichtreatsOctober as marigold) thathe was using a metaphor already implicitin poetic vision. to have relegated to a priortextthe creationor discovery thatrelationship. . the poem identifies deep or sky. "October is marigold" eschews the citational mode. p. that the fire of the eyes burned in some distant theselattersentencesas partof etc. not just because they seem to request an answer and hence designate themselvesas incomplete. Complete ed. Geoffrey Keynes (Oxford. perhaps because it seeks to avoid irony. in poetic discourse. Writings. though it is clearly very limited (in no way an infinite of it the truth repertory possibilities).but because the presuppositions carried by their questions imply a prior discourse. 25. as a textor set of Thus the problemof interpreting attitudespriorto the poem itself.et cependant deja lus." By presupposing sentencesworkstreatthem as prior dis22 23 Ted Hughes. a discourseor mode of discoursealreadyin place. p. indicateswithperfectclarity of Barthes's claim about the intertext: that a textrefersto or cites bitsof discourse which are "anonymes. 1972).irreperables. Selected Poems(London."22 unusual one. 1966). questionsexplicitly poems containing tual nature. have begun "In marigold October" would have as and marigold presupbeen to treat the conjunction of October of posed. the poem becomes essentiallythat of deciding what attitude the poem takes to the prior discourse which it designates as presupposed. is a way of acquiring a reputation for energy and To forthrightness. In Blake's "The Tyger" we have a series of questions: Whatimmortal hand or eye Could frame fearful thy symmetry? In whatdistant deeps or skies of Burntthefire thine eyes? dare he aspire? On whatwings Whatthehand dare siezethefire?23 was framed by some By presupposing that the fearfulsymmetry immortalhand. Ted Hughes begins a poem "October is This direct assertionof a metaphor. asserttheirintertexFinally. especiallyof an marigold. 214. This kind of presuppositionis useful forthe studyof intertextuality for.M L N 1391 directlyor presupposed.

Allait.asks us to other stories. afterthe line. in most cases the logical prelogical presupposition. suppositionsof positiveand negativepropositionsare the same. however.or at least strongly that the storywill have a point to it. des Ou la jeune pretresse. corpsbrulede secretes Entrebaillant robeaux brisespassageres. and pragmatic presuppositions. by the res us in medias and program of its presuppositions. . If we think about this kind of case we shall see that there are or many ways in which literary pragmaticpresuppositionsare sigwhich carryno naled and produced by elements or constructions For example. the organization of detail and incident). 112.24 sa 24 Baudelaire. as part of a traditionwhich the poem is dealing with.It relates the storyto a series of it identifies withthe conventionsof a genre. theypresentthemselvesas already read by virtueof the simple factthat theyare presupposed. le chaleurs. put veryweight our reading as an attemptto discover the elementsof this"prior" text:what boy? what object? what had happened? But logicallythe opening sentence withthe fewestpresuppositionswould be somePoor there liveda kingwhohad a daughter.We may or may not find in earlier poems sentences similar to those presupposed. Oeuvres p. Indeed."J'entrevoyais pourtantun objet singulier!"the poem continues as follows: aux ombres Ce n'etait un temple bocageres. They functionas already read. determine object had thatnothing happened implies a veryrich set of prior pretending sentencesand as opening sentencein a novel or story would. pragmatically. take certainattitudestowardsit (guaranteeing. thinglike Onceupona time richin literary thissentenceis extremely in logical presuppositions." presuppositions. it is not difficultto produce examples contrastthe logical presuppositionsof linguiswhichset in striking whichare central and literary ticsand therhetorical presuppositions works. to the process of reading literary Consider the matterof opening sentencesin novels: logical prerole here. The presupposigovern tionlesssentence is a powerfulintertextual operator.1392 JONATHAN CULLER course. that is in no way crucial. as the basic figureswhich suppostionshave an important The boy stoodbythestrange a hermeneuticstrategy. in Baudelaire's "Un Voyage a Cythere. negations are much richerin rhetorically. a moral which will implying. but literarily.exhaust the notion of presupposition. Thus. pas amoureuse fleurs. completes. Logical presuppositiondoes not.

for example.the negation of somethingalready in place as a discursivesupposition."An utterance of a sentence pragmaticallypresupposes that its context is That is.promise. These presuppositionsare defined not on the relationsbetweensentencesbut on the relationsbetween utteranceand situationof utterance. pragmatically. It is not clear that literary The point is. . working to Attempts formulatepragmaticpresuppositionsforspeech acts have onlyrecently underwayand have generallyfocusedon the got of criteriaforsuccessfulaccomplishment speech acts such as promstudies would ising.warning.M L N 1393 presupposes only that there was someLogically. in a room with a door presupposes. one is suppositions on the conventionsof a genre of speech act. This enterpriseis related to the play by special mustdevelop to deal withitssecond type programwhichlinguistics of presupposition: pragmatic presupposition. The lengthof thispresuppositionand makes the following descriptionintensifies the whole stanza the negation of an intertextual citation. so that a sentence in a tragedy." p. logical presuppositions To describe rhetoricalor literarypresupposition would be to operations which are broughtinto analyse the various interpretive kinds of discourse. . are The analogies withthe case of literature not veryrich. door thatis not open.the mighthave applied negationof the language whichpoetictradition to Cythere.The rhetoricalpresuppostionwhichopens an intertexorder fromthe tual or dialogical space in the poem is of a different we have previouslybeen considering.ordering. Openthe interpret the presence. "Two Types of Presupposition. of another person who understandsEnglish and is in a relation to the speaker which enables him to interpret thisas a request or command. the contextmustbe such as to allow one to appropriate. learn much fromthe details of such investigations. command. 49. simply. In trying formulatethe pragmaticpreetc. expected it to be a temple or had claimed thatit was.it was nota temple but rhetoricallyit presupposes that someone would have thing. detached from a particulartemporal context and placed in a discursiveseries formedby other members of a literarygenre. is appropriatelyread according to conventions which are differentfrom those which to would apply in comedy. of sentenceswhichwarn.."25 the utteranceas the kind of speech act whichitis.except utteranceas a special kind of speech in thisrespect:we take literary act.that formallythe investigationof pragmatic presupposi25 Keenan.

In all these cases there are no momentsof authority and points of origin except those which are retrospectively desigcan be shown to derive from nated as originsand which. withoutsuspectingit. its conditionsof one need not enquire whetherthe speaker of the senpossibility. "tout un systemed'habitudes et a de d'ideesqui etaientles fruits leur experienceet s'imposaient leur 26 ed."26 poeticsof thiskindfindsitsraison de Authors in theintertextual natureof literary works. symbolic displacement. They are simplythe constituents a discursivespace fromwhich one triesto derive conventions. In relatingthissentence intelligible to other acts of promisingwhichform. nor even whether anyone has actually produced these sentences.but theyhave may developed. Valery. of Paul Valery. whose in to conventionsone attempts infer.therefore. whichpoeticsmustunderthe This is precisely kindof enterprise it take. d'etre.None of these sentencesis a point of origin or moment of of authority. it is a matterof working out what conventions are necessary to account for what happens. believe that theyare the source of theirworks. une analyse des modes d'action de cet art. Hytier(Paris. as the series forwhichtheyare constituted origin.as it were. relates work to a whole series of other works.To workon the is presuppositionsof a sentencewhichpromises to relateitto a whole series of other sentences. 1957). Focusing on the conditionsof meaning in literature. de ses moyens A et de la diversite ses formes. not of the discoveringcomsurveying membersof a class and inductively mon properties.treatingthem not a literary of as sources but as constitutents a genre.Oeuvres.who thoughtthat a true history literatureought to be "une Histoirede l'espriten tantqu'il produitou consomme de taskof such a projectwould be saw la litterature.to place it in a discursiveor intertextual space which gives rise to the conventionsthat make this sentence as and significant a speech act. Valerysaw. I. for example.of condensation and of of plot structure. thematicsynthesis.One is interested conventions of which govern the production and interpretation character.1394 JONATHAN CULLER tions is similarto the task whichconfrontspoetics. 1439. tence has previously encountered these other sentences which promise.As in explaining the conventions of a lecture. ." thatthe primary "une etude qui eut pour objet de formerune idee aussi exacte que possible des conditionsd'existenceet de developpement de la Litterature.

avaientbeau ne pas soupconnertoucesles definitions.the way in which it produces a pre-text. The linguistic analogy. 1440.which seems to me useful here in its limThe ited way. suppose.The goal of this project would be an account of how textscreate presuppositions and hence pre-texts for themselves and how the ways of producing these presuppositionsrelate to waysof treating them. I. toutela logique que la composition toutesles conventions. The more self-aware such activitiesbecome the more explicitlydo they make strengththe criterionof value. The second enterprise.systems of combination. A 27 Ibid. a logic of composition. suggests two ways of approaching intertextuality. firstis to look at the specificpresuppositionsof a given text. leur travailmettait sairement en jeu tous ces procedes et ses modes inevitablesdu de fonctionnement l'esprit. To talk about and differences between particulartextsis is a perfectly similarities to valid and interesting pursuitbut it is not in itselfa contribution It of intertextuality. one is engaged in an activity interpretation the criteriaby which it is ultiwhich may or may not be aware of matelyjudged.M L N 1395 Ils production. .the studyof rhetoricalor pragmatic presupposition."27 nature of literature This is a firmassertion of the intertextual accompanied by a recognitionthat to talk about the constitutive function the experience of other textsshould involvenot a conof centrationon particular precursor texts but on conventions.in to whichtakes place what I propose to call application: the bringing release bear of one body of discourse on another in an effortto energy. a space between them. Whether one applies Milton to Wordsworthor the disto course of thermodynamics a chapter of a Zola novel (as Michel of Serres has done).an intertextualspace whose occupants may or may not correspond to other actual texts.leads to a poetics which is less interestedin the occupantsof thatintertextual space whichmakes a workintelligible or than in the conventionswhich underlie that discursiveactivity space. These projectsleave a middle ground. is importantto avoid the veryreal the study temptationsof source study and the fleshpots of Bloom's "anas if criticism" one is to provide an account of literature an tithetical its institution and give intertextuality due.et necescroirene rien devoir qu'a l'instant meme..

must engage with these presuppositions.there are no grounds for argument. If one simplyexpressed a desire to interpret poems anagrammata ically. thatpoeticsof readingwhichtheyinitially Brasenose Oxford College. theycan be deuses of scribed.Even the proponentsof strongreadings which may. in principle.the timately. themtogether. Insofar as theydo this. One must instead produce a theorywhich makes this procedure plausible in terms of a notion of literatureand the interpretive of of operations which are at present constitutive the institution literature. thereare alwaysgrounds forargument.by extracting "concealed" word fromeach line and putting one would stand little chance of achievingstrength. that it is in principle verifiable. ulseek emancipationfromthe conventionsof discourse.because the strongreading can only acquire strengthby pretending that it is open to argument. pragmatic presuppositionsof literature.their activitiestoo fall withinthe domain of a poetics.no reason to prefer one reading to another.must relate to them.It gains strengthonly by attachingitselfto existingmodes of thoughtand discourse.which imposes itself. .Here.can become objectsof knowledge.1396 JONATHAN CULLER strongreading is that which commands attention. however. in practice.The interpretive contribute to the notion of intertextuality thereforeindirectly may evade or distort.

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