[ilds] [RG 2003 Justine 1.1]

James Gifford gifford at ualberta.ca
Fri Apr 6 12:25:36 PDT 2007

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Date: Mon, 09 Jun 2003 21:37:39 -0400
From: W.L. Godshalk
To: Anna Lillios 
Subject: Linear, Global, Intertextual, Hypertextual readings

I want to try to clarify what I take to be Frye's distinction between
linear reading and global reading.  A linear reading is a first reading.
In this reading, the reader only knows what he/she has read so far --
however much or little that may be, or in what parts of the novel the
reader has read. I don't think a linear reading excludes what Jamie calls
an intertextual reading. I certainly remember picking up on Durrell's
intertextuality when I was reading The Quartet for the first time. I was
thrilled with all the references I was able to detect. But I still didn't
know how the novel would end.

A global reading is one in which the reader can think about the total
structure of the novel.  This can only happen, I think, after the novel is
read for the first time.  When you read globally, you can read the first
sections of Justine and understand how these sections relate to the later
sections of the novel. When you read the word "fragmentation" in section 7,
you can relate it to what happens later in the novel. When you are reading
linearly (i.e. for the first time), you cannot make these connections.

In an explication of the text, these distinctions are vital. I think.

But perhaps some of us would define the experience of reading Justine as
hypertextual or postmodern.

It's probably apparent that I believe the text is inactive, and the reader
is active. My students often tell me that the text "forces" them to do
something or other. And I always ask, "How does your text do that?" I then
prove to them that I am not controlled by my text -- and I close my book.

It seems to me that the active-text metaphor obscures the fact that the
reader creates meaning; the reader is in control; and different readers
read the same novel in different ways.  If a novel controlled its own
reading by the reader, there would be only ONE reading -- that authorized
by the text. We know this is not true, so the reader must take
responsiblity for his/her reading. Don't blame it on Larry!

In section 1, the narrator says that "the city . . . used us as its flora."
 Why "flora" rather than "fauna"?  This is one of Durrell's favor ideas,
but I wonder why the narrator sees his friends as plants rather than

Bill Godshalk
*    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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