The Theoretical Background of the Study

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Comparative literature studies seem to have reached a noticeable place in the realm of literary criticism. It is mainly concerned with analyzing shared points and aspects between two or more literary works beyond national and local borders. Actually, the primary purpose of Comparative Literature is to inspire literary criticism across many borders in order to make readers aware about the themes that are normally evaded by the limited emphasis on a nationwide literature. Many critics of comparative literature are supposed to track the alterations of literary texts beyond geographical and time limitations. They look for the relations of a literary work with history, politics, and different principles. Henry Remak has defined Comparative Literature as what follows:

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Comparative literature is the study of literature beyond the confines of one particular country, and the study of the relationships between literature on the one hand and other areas of knowledge and belief, such as the arts (e.g., painting, sculpture, architecture, music), philosophy, history, the social sciences (e.g., politics, economics, sociology), the sciences, religion, etc., on the other. In brief, it is the comparison of one literature with another or others, and the comparison of literature with other spheres of human expression. (as cited in Stallknecht & Frenz, 1961, p. 3).

It has been noticed that the literature of one country may be under the influences of literary works from other countries and even the writers who know nothing of each other, show captivating similarities. Jost (1974) has emphasized that literary works should be investigated together while disregarding “their national origins as soon as they are ideationally or factually related, as soon as they belong to the same current or period, the same aesthetic category or genre, or as soon as they illustrate the same themes or motifs” (p. 13). Tötösy and Vasvári (2013) have also indicated that comparative literature can be probed through two techniques. The first one means “the knowledge of more than one national language and literature” (p. 5). And the second one has determined the subject as follows, “comparative literature has an ideology of inclusion of the Other, be that a marginal literature in its several meanings of marginality, a genre, various text types, etc.…” (p. 5).

Comparative literature has got a number of schools. Comparative literature’s French school has mainly attempted to analyze the issue of influence (Wellek 1942, p. 39). According to J T Shaw, in order to be expressive, influence has to be established in a fundamental method. Actually, it may be shown in style, images, characters, themes, and it may also be shown in the content (as cited in Stallknecht & Frenz, 1961, p. 66). He has also added:

The center of interest should be what the borrowing or influenced author does with what he takes and what effect it has upon the finished literary work. The study of direct literary relationships and literary indebtedness can be indispensable to understanding and evaluating the individual work of art, not only for placing it in the literary tradition, but also for defining what it is and what it essentially attempts and for determining wherein it succeeds. (as cited in Stallknecht & Frenz, 1961, p. 71).

It is also stated that the French school is dull and wide-ranging, so its growth has been really slow. That means they believed there were no limit in American comparative studies. Actually, American comparative school is free in analyzing any subjects (Wellek 1942, pp. 1-10). Wellek as one of the most eminent scholars in the realm of comparative studies has proclaimed in Theory of Literature (1942, p. 12) that the French concept has had a number of problems; for example it limits the criticism to such issues as the sources, influences and fame. The seriousness of these problems is that it may attract the attention to the writers of second-class while overlooking the spirit of literary phenomenon, which requires great attention to be analyzed.

The best analysis of the literature is possible through a detailed focus on its essence which means the literature should be free from any political, lingual, or racial obstacles; besides, it should not be restricted to a particular methodology. Wellek (1942) believes that such matters as the description, designation, explanation, narration, illustration and presentation should be paid attention in the literary criticism. Consequently, it should not be considered that the historical method is the only way to the analysis of a literary work. He has also declared that one of the purposes of Comparative Literature is to rewrite the literary history; so, Comparative Literature in this sense requires linguistic knowledge, comprehensive outlooks and each literature should be at the methodical and philanthropic level (p. 13)

In fact, Wellek (1942) was against inaugurating any restrictions for Comparative Literature and wanted to meet each of the “criticism”, “History of the Literature”, “National Literature” and “General Literature” together. He stated:

No doubt that Comparative Literature wants to overcome the passions of nationalism and narrow looks, but it does not ignore the existence of different national traditions and vitality, as it does not diminish their importance. We must beware of false choices, which are not needed, because we want both the National Literature and General Literature. We need a broad perspective, which cannot be achieved except by the Comparative Literature. (p. 231)

It is believed that the French school is primarily preoccupied with the matter of influence. On the other hand, the American school has attempted to get rid of all the French school’s restrictions. Shamsuddin and Abd Rahman (2012) have discussed the difference between that French and the American schools because Comparative literature of French school is the meeting points among other cultures and literatures. However, American school has been mainly obsessed with overcoming the limitations of French school.


Intertextuality refers to the influence and presence of preceding texts in the construction of new texts; this means that it is impossible for a text to be wholly generated by its author. In fact, any text is produced through the process of interrelationships of various textual elements of the relating texts and the author’s imagination (Abrams, 1993, pp. 185-6; Peck & Coyle, 2002, p. 143). Many literary figures, in particular the authors may apply intertextual features intentionally or unintentionally. Bell (1993) thinks of intertextuality as a series of texts that are associated with each other and influence the present text. Critics also believe that intertextuality is an essential aspect of any literary work. In fact, all texts are intertexts and the traces of earlier texts can be noticed in the present text.

The term intertextuality was first coined by Kristeva in the essay “Le mot, le dialogue et le roman” (1967); however, according to many scholars, this concept was first observed in Ferdinand de Sausssure’s and Bakhtin’s ideas (Booker, 1996, p. 58). Kristeva’s focus was the literary theory of Mikhail Bakhtin, and her philosophy is mostly a fusion of his theory with Saussurian linguistics.

What made Bakhtin’s theory a significant theory for Kristeva is the concept of dialogism. Bakhtin considered dialogism as a vital component of language. Bakhtin (1984, p. 38) established two types of texts or utterances: the monologic and the dialogic. The dialogic text is incessantly having a dialogue with other texts, and is learned by other texts, while the monologic text generally enforces a particular logic and significance. These terms refer to ideological standpoints. Thus, Bakhtin regarded all the language as dialogic.

Following her, many theorists have used the term “intertextuality”. The first protuberant theorist who elaborated on Kristeva’s concept of “intertextuality” is Roland Barthes. Around the same time, Jacques Derrida also established a model that has many characteristics in common with Kristeva and Barthes’ ideas of intertextuality. These theorists have been known as “post-structuralist” theorists (Allen, 2011, p. 92).

According to Kristeva (1980), no text is independent of other relating texts existing before it; ‘… any text is an intertext – the site of an intersection of numberless other texts’ (p. 42). Barthes (1988) also imposes that ‘… a text is not a line of words releasing a single “theological” meaning … but a multidimensional space in which a variety of writings, none of them original, blend and clash’ (p. 149). Consequently, understanding, examining, and interpreting any literary text all rely upon being aware of other relating texts (Short, 1989), because their textual elements for sure influence and are present in that text.

It is because of such intertextuality that an author can generate the present text and the reader can discern the new connotations (Allen, 2011, p. 71). In fact, when the writer is writing a text, s/he may call a series of codes and other features of other texts through quotations, allusions, and inferences and through appealing to these as well as his/her experience of reading the related texts, the reader is able to make sense of the text. In this way, the author and the reader will have a mutual relationship.

Models of Intertextuality Analysis

This part will be a brief introduction to different models of intertextuality. Then, the model which is going to be applied in this study, as a more practical one, will be discussed in details. The first model to be introduced in the present study is Halliday’s model. Halliday (2003) has mainly regarded intertextuality as a part of the text’s history. It can be declared that he thought of any text as being made in the history, and each former text being a part of the history of that text.

In Halliday’s (2003) opinion, intertextuality in literature shows itself through allusions. “Intertextuality is … the set of acts of meaning to which the given act of meaning makes allusion. This is familiar in literature and philology as allusion and in semiotics as intertextuality (emphasis original)…” (p. 361). He has considered the history of a text having four “strands or dimensions”: intertextual, developmental, systemic, and intratextual. In other words, these strands make the past/history of text (pp. 360-61). However, Halliday’s model has some shortcomings because it does not propose a practical agenda for defining the elements of intertextuality because it is mostly abstract.

The next model belongs to Widdowson. Widdowson’s intertextuality is mainly from a linguistic perspective. Although, he (2004) regards Halliday’s model an insufficient framework for intertextual examination of texts, like Halliday he believes that intertextuality is noteworthy and important in investigating any literary text (p. 140). To him, finding about the exact intertextual items and what items of former texts are present in the present text is not easy (p. 147). Still, he absolutely believes in the fact that all texts have intertextual elements within themselves and we need useful methods to understand intertextuality in texts (pp. 147-8). Again, Widdowson has not suggested any concrete outline for finding intertextuality elements in literary texts.

Fairclough’s model is also of great significance in this regard. Fairclough (2003) believes that a text is made of a number of features such as functional, lexical, grammatical, coherence, and textual structure, which should be paid remarkable attention in analyzing texts. The relations between these elements begin from single words and continue to clauses, sentences, and finally the text itself. Another momentous element working in the construction of the text is “intertextuality” (p. 75).

Consequently, the researcher adds three more important elements incorporating in the construction of text and discourse: Force of utterance, coherence of text, and intertextuality. “… Force of utterance is the intension and impulse of the text (promising, request, etc…) that discourse has within itself, coherence of text, causes inherent and coherent relations between internal components of the text, and intertextuality of the text determines the relations between the text and all other related texts (pp. 75-6). The problem of this model is that Fairclough has just highlighted the prominence of intertextuality in text construction. This definition of intertextuality again lacks any real basis for investigation.

Genette’s Intertextual Model

The last and most important model belongs to Genette. Genette (1992, 1997) has come up with a new term as “Transtextuality”; he has five categories, one of which is intertextuality. The other four are: architextuality, paratextuality, metatextuality, and hypertextuality. Among these categories, he believes intertextuality and hypertextuality show the textual relations between literary texts, while other parts emphasize between-text relations. Genette’s intertextuality can be defined in three types: explicit and formal intertextuality, the explicit attendance of elements of texts in the text like quotations, chiefly direct quotations; non-explicit concealed intertextuality, such as plagiarism; and implicit intertextuality, like those hidden elements of other texts like references and allusions in which the writer gives some hints. Like the previous models, Genette’s model also is not effective enough to be used practically for intertextual scrutiny of the texts because it has restricted intertextuality to only three types which makes a comprehensive understanding of the text problematic (Yazdani & Ahmadian, 2013, p. 159).


This chapter provided a short discussion of the present thesis’s methodology. It was stated that comparative literature has been mostly concerned with examining common themes and characteristics between at least two literary works beyond national and local boundaries. After that, the writer discussed the concept of intertextuality which was first coined by Julia Kristeva. After Kristeva, Genette established the term “transtextuality” or textual transcendence as the relation between a text with other texts. He classified this term into five categories in which intertextuality is a text that covers words from another text; paratextuality is a text in which the readers are influenced by things which are not in the text themselves, such as titles; metatextuality is about referring to another works’ texts in a different text; architextuality is about a text by title; and hypertextuality embraces translation and adaptation.

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