Saturday, January 5, 2008

Talking Texts

Over the holiday break I've done some good reading (though not as much as I would like), including Inkheart, by Cornelia Funk (thank you, Claire!); Lost in Austen, a "create-your-own-Jane-Austen-adventure" by Emma Campbell Webster (thank you, Chloe!) and The Remarkable Case of Dorothy L. Sayers, by Catherine Kenney. Here's a quote from the latter: so far the best and most succinct definition I've ever heard of the intriguing concept known as "intertextuality":

"The dense fabric of allusion in Sayer's novels is similar to that found in much twentieth-century literature, including the more literary versions of the detective story, and is an aspect of what is now fashionably called 'intertextuality.' Perhaps in a time when things fall apart, when the function and future of literature is daily questioned and the alienation of human beings from one another is so severe, texts have to talk to each other to make connections. Perhaps, even worse, in these incoherent times only texts can speak to each other." - From The Remarkable Case of Dorothy Sayers, by Catherine Kenney (Kent State University Press, 1990, page 14)

Upon reading that last sentence I had a vision of the library basement at Duke Divinity School, darkened after hours, and all those thousands of unread books slumbering away with neglect--until one of them whispers, "psst!!"