Intertextuality

Intertextuality is a fictional mode that explores pre-existing texts

Some works that refer to other texts are: Longbourne by Jo Baker, which is inspired by Pride and Prejudice (Austen, 1813); ‘The Werewolf’ (Angela Carter) by the fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood (Perrault, 1697); and Blonde Roots by Bernadine Evaristo, which subverts a wide array of texts that implicitly assume white dominance and superiority, while its title references the Alex Haley slave narrative Roots (Haley, 1976).

The original narratives can inspire the later work in various ways:

  • Either by means of form, content, or both – I don’t know enough about P&P to know what its form is like, but I’ve read a fair few old novels and this doesn’t seem to have that olde worlde diction. It’s more in the style of 2013 than 1813, so the old form is not being used in the new novel. It seems, though, that most of the main characters are being reprised in the new novel along with a whole slew of servants. So some content is preserved from P&P. One would presume that the setting is the same too.
    TW has a form that seems to be much more suited to werewolves and village life. It has a hyperreality that suits the content of the tale (same in the old as in the new) really well. There is dirt and there is blood and there is a transformation to a far scarier form of the wolf than is evident in the original rather sanitised children’s tale.
    BR is clever, perhaps a little too clever-dicky for its own good in that it takes the same content and form of existing slave/master narratives and changes the names in order to turn everything around so that the ‘whytes’are in the place formerly occupied by the ‘blacks’ and vice versa. Names, places, god’s – all turned around. The content is the same, but the change of names effectively changes the form.
  • By answering back or deconstructing what has gone before – L seems to deconstruct the events of P&P in that we are given a de- and re-construction of the same events but as seen from the POV of the servants in the new version. Not sure what answering back means, but it seems to indicate an argument between two parties. I haven’t read enough of L to tell if this is the case.
    Again, TW deconstructs the original and puts it back together in a more vivid form. The new is more believable than the old. Does it answer back in any sense? No.
    BR is both deconstruction and an answering back of existing slave narratives. It deconstructs overtly and the answering back is implied by the form. It says ‘this was wrong’and it demonstrates this wrongness by moving the narrative close to home and nearer to the bone. Brilliant concept.
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