intertextuality (noun)

a term coined by Julia Kristeva to designate the various relationships that a given text may have with other texts. These intertextual relationships include anagram, allusion, adaptation, translation, parody, pastiche, imitation and other kinds of transformation. In the literary theories of structuralism and post-structuralism, texts are seen to refer to other texts (or to themselves as texts) rather than to external reality. The term intertext has been used variously for a text drawing on other texts, for a text thus drawn upon, and for the relationship between both. (Concise Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms)

In Intertextuality, Graham Allen describes "intertextuality" in the opening of the book this way:

The idea that when we read a work of literature we are seeking to find a meaning which lies inside that work seems completely commonsensical. Literary texts possess meaning; readers extract that meaning from them. We call the process of extracting meaning from texts reading or interpretation. Despite their apparent obviousness, such ideas have been radically challenged in contemporary literary and cultural theory. Works of literature, after all, are built from systems, codes and traditions established by previous works of literature. The systems, codes and traditions of other art forms and of culture in general are also crucial to the meaning of a work of literature. Texts, whether they be literary or non-literary, are viewed by modern theorists as lacking in any kind of independent meaning. They are what theorists now call intertextual. The act of reading, theorists claim, plunges us into a network of textual relations. To interpret a text, to discover its meaning or meanings, is to trace those relations. Reading thus becomes a process of moving between texts. Meaning becomes something which exists between a text and all other texts to which it refers and relates, moving out from the independent text into a network of textual relations. The text becomes the intertext. (1)

transtextuality (noun)

" . . . all that sets the text in a relationship, whether obvious or concealed, with other texts" (Genette, Gérard. Palimpsests: Literature in the Second Degree). 

Genette's term "transtextuality" is his particular variation on the idea most other critics call "intertextuality."

Genette reduces the term intertextuality to "a relationship of copresence between two texts or among several texts [. . .] the actual presence of one text within another." ("Glossary." Allen, Graham. Intertextuality. )

Genette categories the various forms of transtextuality; that is, all the possible relations between two texts, as follows:

i) intertextuality: quotation, allusion and plagiarism

ii) paratextuality: titles, covers, epigraphs, introductions

iii) metatextual: a critical relationship

iv) architextuality: genre suggested by title

v) hypertextuality: hypertext to hypotext; film adaptations are often described as "hypertexts" with the literary work upon which the film is based called a "hypotext"


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