Intertextuality is a set of relations between texts, which can include direct quotations, allusions, literary conventions, imitation, parody, and unconscious sources among others. Intertextuality also involves assumptions regarding the reader, the situation being referred to, and its context.
Literary critics have always tried to draw comparisons between the work reviewed and other works of literature. Such is the case with The Jungle, a novel that examines capitalism’s exploitation of working men and women, written by Upton Beall Sinclair, one of the most prolific writers in the history of American letters. According to Heim (2004), “critics analyzing The Jungle’s literary merits often remark on the book’s naturalistic elements, drawing comparisons to other novels that depict humanity as controlled or victimized by social factors.” Heim goes even further and states that the novel shows elements of determinism that can be seen in the work of the French naturalistic writer Emile Zola.
Another example of the researchers’ interest in intertextuality is the case study entitled “Star Wars (1977) and Intertextuality” (Roberts 2002) in a volume dedicated to one of the most vigorous and exciting areas of modern culture, science fiction, the genre to which The Matrix also belongs. This study provides a clear example that elements of intertextuality can be found not only in literary texts, such as novels, plays or poems, but in other forms of art, like movies. Roberts (2002: 87) argues that “It is hard to deny, certainly, that watching a film like Star Wars as an SF fan is a process of identifying a web of allusions and quotations from SF texts…” It is important to underline the fact that Roberts realizes that science fiction fans will be able to make connections with other films, while the ordinary viewer merely enjoys the text offered on the screen. That is why the viewers’ response is conditioned by the connections they can make with other movies they have viewed in the past, and these connections are one of the key ways in which film texts operate (Roberts 2002: 89).
Books published in print form are not the only source of knowledge that researchers can use. With the development of the Internet, the possibility of publishing in hypertext form has given people enormous possibilities in finding or communicating information on different topics.
While searching the Internet for papers on intertextuality, I came across a very interesting research paper that presented elements of intertextuality in Shakespeare’s works (Keller 2002). The study used theories of intertextuality in order to provide the bridge to textual analysis. The discussion was focused on particular instances of Shakespearean intertextuality, repeated situations, and allusions in his poems, selected sonnets and plays, including A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Macbeth, and The Winter’s Tale.
I have also written a paper using intertextuality after having read Jasmine Nights by the Thai writer S.P. Somtow. While I was reading it, I realized that there were many elements of intertextuality in the novel that related back to Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Despite the fact that the two novels were written more than one century apart by writers of different nationalities, I discovered they had many elements in common. Some elements identified were the language used, the themes, and the ethnic backgrounds the two novels presented. The paper concluded by stating that although Jasmine Nights and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn focused their settings, plots, characters, and themes on different parts of the world, the language the authors used was not too different from one another. Through examples, the paper demonstrated that there are similarities in the way the authors structured their books, used their experience and educational background when writing their novels, and used figurative language in order to enrich the texts.
The examples presented above demonstrate the fact that scholars are interested in the topic of intertextuality and apply its theory to different forms of art, such as literature and film. The present book aims to find elements of intertextuality between one movie and two books.
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Genre – Non-Fiction/Movie Studies/Literary Criticism
Rating – G