Essay: An Intertextual Reading of the Play Othello and the Film O (2001) (Page 2 of 2)

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  • Subject area(s): English literature essays
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  • Published on: July 20, 2019
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  • Tags: Othello Shakespeare
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Intertextuality is the interrelationship between literary works whereby each text is seen as a product shaped by other literary works. The Bulgarian critic Julia Kristeva is said to have invented the term while its meaning can be traced back to the works of Russian philosopher M. M. Bakhtin (Harder, 2017). Intertextuality explains the fact that each literary text or work is influenced by some pre-exiting texts and therefore the meaning of a text is embedded in the meaning of other previously composed texts. The message in a text is understood in relation to the messages conveyed by other texts that precedes it. Thus it is commonsensical that there will always be some degree of thematic, structural, ideological similarities between texts.

The term intertextuality denotes a relationship between literary texts whereby each seem to borrowed ideas or concepts from the other, although differences in time might tell which text shows the influence of the other one. Authors are often seen to incorporate ideas from a previous text in their own works in oder to convey or pass on message to their readers. The moment when a reader senses something intertextual he or she is compelled to think about the original text (although the original one can be influenced by another) from the past either consciously or subconsciously. (Wimmer, n.d).
Numerous literary works in the world shows some level of similarity with other drams or novellas or any other form of literature. This concept is known as intertextuality in general. “The text that are interrelated or interconnected in terms of character, plot, context” or any other means are said to be an intertextual text. There are a number of textual relations that authors rely to communicate their ideas. Intertextuality comes in different forms like “allusion, pastiche, parody” etc. Allusion is “a generally implied reference to characters, scenes, plot elements, etc. that appear in another work” and a pastiche is “a collage of words, phrases, or entire passages from one or more other authors that creates a new literary work.” Pastiche is “Italian for paste” (Wimmer, n.d).
Intertextuality is considered to be one of the most conspicuous features of literary works of any given type. Intertextuality is always present in between literary texts. Texts might appear in different forms but the share some degree of intertextuality. Similarly, the voices in the texts might not complement each other at all but still they will show some characteristics of intertextuality. This will not prevent the readers from tracing back the original text that has be referred to (if they are somewhat identical with that). It can be seen quite analogous to dialogism. (Todorov, 1985, pp.61-74).
Intertextuality enables the readers to associate with the pre-existing literary works, in that way the readers do not completely feel estranged while reading a text. This further aids them to comprehend and examine the previous texts and decide what improvements should be brought in order to adapt to different contexts. Intertextuality orks between two literary work in the similar manner as the transference of ideas and principles occur between two cultures of two different eras. One culture influences the preceding culture. The people of our age can connect to their forefather in terms of norms and concepts, no matter how colossal the generation gap is.
According to Julia Kristeva, a Bulgarian theorist, meaning is always taking on different connotations and undergoing radical changes. When one produces a literary work, it bears influence of previous texts. Authors do not really come up with something original. But their work is influenced by various other previously existing texts. While creating a new work, one’s mind cannot repudiate the previously learnt things. An author never comes up with something that is beyond their perception. They cannot produce something which they are not even aware of. An author is first a reader then a writer. (Buchanan, 2010).
Kristeva is the one who first coined the term intertextuality and made use of it in her works like “Word, Dialogue and Novel” (1966) and “The Bounded Essay” (1966-67). The concept of intertextuality that she inaugurated sees the text as “a dynamic site” whereby relational processes are the prime concerns of analysis rather than “static structures” and products “There are always other words in a word, other texts in a text. The concept of intertextuality requires, therefore that we understand texts not as self-contained systems but as differential and historical, as traces and tracings of otherness, since they are shaped by the repetition and transformation of other textual structures. Rejecting the new Critical principle of textual autonomy, the theory of intertextuality insists that a text cannot exist as a self-sufficient whole, and so, that it does not function as a closed system” (Alfaro, 1996).
Literary texts have a number of voices representing different characters. They bind together and set them under one umbrella. It is similar to what Mikhail Bakhtin comments about language, that language is not stable or fixed. It is a pragmatic aspect like a conversation or dialogue between more than one people. Novels thus work relying on similar idea, since it deals with viewpoints of a number of unidentical personalities.
Mikhail Bakhtin coned the concepts like dialogism and polyphony. His work called Estetika Slovesnogo Tvorchestva (1952-1953; Speech Genres, 1986), gives insight to the theory of dialogism. The idea that he iterates throughout most part of his life is that all forms of linguistic communication take place in specific social contexts and between particular groups and classes of language-users: “The life of the word is contained 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” (Simandan, 2010).
The concept polyphony or polyphonic texts can be explained in like manner, which denotes the idea that novels consist multiple voices and perceptions. It is quite identical with the idea of stream of consciousness since one is saying something verbally but at the same time thinking about something else at the in their mind. For Bakhtin, fact is that the meaning is essentially outside the confines of utterance or expressions; it comes in many different connotations which are beyond the employed words.
Roland Barthes introduced the notion of “The death of the Author”, which stands for the idea that the moment a text is published the author loses the authority to control the readers. The author’s presence in the text omitted, it is the readers who perceive the text in ways they want to. It slightly contrasts Bakhtin’s notion in that although Bakhtin agrees on the idea of author’s death in the text, he maintains that still some essence of author’s ideas are ever present in the text. The author no longer controls the reader with his perception and idea. However his voice is there in his words. Nevertheless, the readers have their chances to perceive beyond what the text is imparting them with.
In a polyphonic literary works the characters have their own voices. The narrator (basically the author) does not have different voices all intertwined with each other, rather the ideas or notions that are reflected is his voice is spilt into pieces and distributed among the characters each of who, in turn, represent a different voice. The text thus depict a reality that is witnessed from the viewpoint of multiple characters in multiple ways. and no unified viewpoint of author is embodied in the text. It depicts a text in a manner as though it were written by a number of authors instead of one (Buchanan, 2010).
Literary works produced in different eras have shown intertextuality among themselves. Bulgakov’s novel the Master and Margarita shows a number of similarities with text produced earlier. Most notably it demonstrates a lot similarity with Gothe’s Faust. Mephistopheles, the devil makes a deal with Dr Faust that in exchange for his soul he will provide him with extraordinary powers that he can use to achieve things he aspire after. Such concept of selling one’s soul to the devil has appeared in numerous literary texts. The novel Master and Margarita deals with such theme of satanic pact. In Bulgakov’s story we see Woland granting Margarita magical powers in exchange for her slavery to him.

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