[ilds] [RG 2003 Justine 1.1]

James Gifford gifford at ualberta.ca
Fri Apr 6 12:21:24 PDT 2007


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Date: Fri, 06 Jun 2003 15:02:59 -0400
From: W.L. Godshalk
To: Anna Lillios 
Subject: Durrell, the reader, and intertextuality

>All of this apparatus, this textual machinery surrounding
>the main narrative, including titles, subtitles,
>dedication, the "Note," and the epigraphs make it clear, at
>least to me, that the novel wants to make us hyperaware
>that our reading is never really linear.  Instead, we read
>back and forth against a horizon of past texts (some of
>which are included by our Author) and past experience.

Yes, of course, but still and at the same time . . . . I just thought I'd
mention Kevin Jackson's delightful little book Invisible Forms: A Guide to
Literary Curiosities -- a book which discusses textual machinery -- and
which reads (for me) more pleasantly than Gerard Genette's Paratexts.

I think intertextuality relies absolutely on the individual reader and his
or her memory.  For example, if I hadn't read Mika Waltari's The Egyptian
(1949), I would not be able to notice Durrell's allusion to that book -- in
which the narrator writes on an island about his former adventures in
Egypt. How many of you have picked up on that (possible) allusion?  In
fact, how many of you have read The Egyptian?

If the reader -- the first time reader -- neglects to turn to the notes
when he/she comes to an * -- then he or she will have to guess who the old
poet of the city is, and if the reader has not read or even heard of Cavafy
-- then he or she has no intertexual experience.  Can we talk of the
"intertextual experience"?

Perhaps Charlie and I disagree on the power of the text versus the power of
the reader.  I think the reader can always elect not to follow the
directions printed in the book (I'll skip that cup of sugar), and the book
cannot force him or her to do anything.  To prove this, I close my book.

Bill Godshalk

PS It would be wonderful (for me) if we heard more voices.
**********************************************
*    W. L. Godshalk
*
*    Professor, Department of English              *
*    University of Cincinnati                                             *
*    Cincinnati OH 45221-0069                   *   Stellar Disorder
*    godshawl at email.uc.edu                                *
*
          *
**********************************************


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