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PHILHARMONICA. International Music Journal

On the Issue of Interpreting the Category of Intertextuality

Denisova Zarina Mukhriddinovna

PhD in Art History

Deputy Director, Yekaterinburg Children School of Art No. 2

620137, Russia, Sverdlovskaya oblast', g. Ekaterinburg, ul. Sadovaya, 18
Other publications by this author










Abstract: The focus of this study is intertextuality within a scientific context, specifically examining a broad range of scientific works that explore intertextuality in the broader context of fiction as a whole. The relevance of this issue is determined by its ability to help estimate the scientific status of this category. The author delves into the study of intertextuality in the humanities, exploring the fundamental principles of this category as formulated in the works of A. Veselovsky, Yu.Tynyanov, Yu. Kristeva, M. Bakhtin, H. Bloom, and others. The author uses general scientific research methods within a comparative and logical analysis, including observation, generalization, and comparison. The research is comprehensive, interdisciplinary, and based on the analytical method. The author comes to the conclusion that intertextuality as an artistic category is thoroughly studied in scientific works. Despite the variety of interpretations of this category, in the scientific field, it appears as a particular mechanism that represents a scientific text as a system operating according to specific laws and acting as a theoretical and practical basis for the modern methodology of musicology as a science, revealing the content of a composer’s canvas and its connection with the cultural texts of previous epochs.  


infinity, intertext, author, text, postmodernism, game, parody, humanities, intertextuality, space

Recently, in search of adequate methods to understand music, musicology as a science increasingly interacts with related humanities disciplines: literary studies, linguistics, poetics, semiotics, and sociology. Sometimes, this interaction results in the emergence of new directions for musical semiotics, musical axiology, musical sociology, and others. In practice, theoretical, historical, aesthetic, sociological, psychological, and many other approaches are used. At the same time, traditional methods of music analysis do not fully reveal the content of modern scores. Today, more and more attention is drawn to intonation – a semantic method of analysis – the essence of which is to identify the historically formed semantic meaning of the composition's subject matter. At its core, this approach to the study of a musical work focuses on the theory of intertextuality, which has received significant development in the humanities.

Let us consider the concept of intertextuality and its cultural and historical background.

Anticipating the emergence of the theory of intertextuality as early as the beginning of the nineteenth century, in an article on anagrams, Ferdinand de Saussure referred to ancient sacred Indian texts (hymns of the Rig Veda), in which the names of the gods were encrypted.

At the end of the nineteenth century, a special role in the development of intertextual theory belongs to the Russian scientist Alexander Veselovsky. In his research, he justified the existence of literary history as a reflection of the history of culture and social thought in general. Defining the poet's role, Veselovsky puts forward an interesting thesis that the poet works with a dictionary of initially prepared plots, and the individuality of the composition's artistic idea is formed by the development of these plots or their new possible outcomes.

The next stage of expanding intertextuality's horizons is associated with the name of Yury Tynyanov, or rather, with his teachings about parody. The scientist was convinced that the genre of parody can not be considered exclusively comic; this perception limits its capabilities. The author suggests "the use of parodic forms in non-parodic ones" [14, p. 290]. The essence of parody is in the mechanization of a certain technique; this mechanization is only felt if the technique that is being mechanized is known. Thus, parody performs a double task: the mechanization of a certain technique, the organization of new material, and this new material will be the old mechanized technique [15, p. 210].

As a result, Tynyanov considers the main principle of updating art systems as the transformation of previous texts, which implies a shift in their semantic side. In continuation of Tynyanov's understanding of parody, irony is a metagolic figure of the text's hidden meaning, built on the basis of the divergence of meaning as objective present and meaning as design [10, p. 336].

Socrates and Plato also reflected on the nature and purpose of irony, presenting it as a way of knowing the truth in the contradiction of concepts. Their ideas were developed further by philosophers up to the nineteenth century (Friedrich Schlegel, Adam Müller, L. Tick, etc.) Irony becomes the basis of the postmodern understanding of the text, assuming the presence of another version and the denial of the previous one. Irony allows you to "avoid the absolutization of one of the versions of possible experience and sets the real space of freedom" [10, p. 338].

Of particular importance in this context is the mechanism of the game. The concept of the game was formed at the beginning of the twentieth century and defined it as a way to create new forms of communication. Let us turn to a number of statements confirming this thesis.

"The game is immediately fixed as a cultural form. Once played, it remains in the memory as a kind of spiritual creation or spiritual value, is passed from one to another, and can be repeated at any time" [16, p. 29].

"The art of the game lies precisely in mastering the skill of two-dimensional behavior. The game creates a special world of multi-dimensional possibilities around a person and thus stimulates the growth of activity" [9, p. 404–405].

By its very nature, it is non-utilitarian, permeated with an aesthetic principle, closed to itself, and is its own goal. In the form of a game, there is a natural process of creating new rules and relationships, which, upon completion of formation, turn into technologies and cease to be the sphere of the game. Play is an activity on the threshold of reflection. The game is a kind of transition from chaos to space, establishing order from chaos. This is what Aleksei Losev called the word "kosmokhaos" ("a kind of harmony, which, however, can disappear at any moment, by accident or by someone's will") [13, p. 92–93].

"In the system of postmodernism, you can participate in the game without even understanding it, taking it completely seriously. This is the distinctive feature (but also the cunning) of ironic creativity. Someone will always perceive ironic discourse as serious" [18, p. 631].

As a result, the game seems to be a kind of mechanism for understanding reality in its complexity and uniqueness. Within the framework of intertext, the game is a method of ironic understanding of what already exists.

During the second half of the twentieth century, the problem of implementing textual resources for meaning generation was actively discussed in the humanities. At this time, the linguistic theory of the text (Zh. Petefi, Teun van Dijk), pragmatics, and sociolinguistics (D. Searle, John Langshaw Austin, Susan Ervin-Tripp), structuralist direction (anthropology of Claude Lévi-Strauss, hermeneutics of Martin Heidegger and Hans-Georg Gadamer). And yet, the text as a philosophical concept is most clearly established in poststructuralism. Within the framework of literary poststructuralism, a methodology for analyzing a literary text developed: deconstruction, aimed at revealing the inconsistency of the text, revealing hidden, elusive meanings fixed in the language in the form of unconscious mental stereotypes.

The term intertextuality was introduced in 1967 by the French researcher Julia Kristeva in the article Bakhtin, Word, Dialogue and Novel, which formulated its concept of intertextuality based on the reinterpretation of the work of Mikhail Bakhtin: "The problem of content, material, and form in verbal, artistic creativity." In this study, Bakhtin notes that literature is in constant dialogue. Being in the creative process, the artist is connected both with the reality given to him and the literary tradition preceding him: "The text lives only in contact with another text. This contact is a dialogic contact between texts, and not a mechanical contact of 'oppositions,' possible only within one text between abstract elements and necessary only at the first stage of understanding" [1, p. 364].

One of Bakhtin's fundamental conclusions is that a work always creates something that has never been before, something new and unique. "We must assume that any sentence in an unlimited speech stream can be repeated an unlimited number of times in a completely identical form, but as an utterance, no sentence can ever be repeated: this is always a new statement" [2, p. 286].

Here are a number of statements by Bakhtin, developing the idea of the connection of the text with context and with all texts.

"The text is that immediate reality (the reality of thought, experience) from which alone these disciplines and this thinking can proceed. Where there is no text, there is no object for research." [2, p. 281].

"Text as a statement included in the speech communication (text chain) of a given sphere. The text is a kind of monad that reflects all the texts within the limits of a given semantic sphere; The relationship of all meanings as they are realized in utterances" [ibid., p. 283].

A transcript of humanitarian thinking is always a transcript of a special kind of dialogue: a complex relationship between the text (the subject of study and reflection) and the context (the questioner, the objector), in which the scientist's cognizing and evaluating thought is realized. This is a meeting of two texts – a ready-made and a created, responsive text – hence, a meeting of two subjects, two authors [ibid., p. 285].

"In his work, the author overcomes the resistance of purely old literary forms, skills, and traditions, and his goal is to create a new literary combination. The reader should 'feel' the author's creative act only against the background of the usual literary manner" [3, p. 170].

As a result, each text is in a state of constant dialogue with the previous texts, while at the same time being the basis for the future text. "Any text," writes Kristeva, "is constructed as a mosaic of citations. Any text is a product of the absorption and transformation of some other text" [12, p. 203]. In this regard, the concept of context is of particular importance in the postmodern tradition. The context combines different levels of interpretation of a text into a single whole. Therefore the interpretation of the text reflects not only the position of its author but also the position of the reader with his artistic and cultural experience. Context is understood as a "quasi-textual phenomenon, generated by the effect of the systematic nature of the text as an expressive-semantic integrity and consisting in the superadditivity of the meaning and the meaning of the text in relation to the meaning of its constituent linguistic units" [11, p. 377].

In the late 1960s, Kristeva, in her research on the semiology of paragrams, proposes to distinguish three types of semiotic practices that society has at its disposal:

– systematic and monological semiotic practice, logical and explicative, based on sign and meaning as predestining elements;

– transformative semiotic practice, where the sign breaks away from its denotation and becomes directed to another semiotic practice of writing;

‒ paragrammatic writing, endless reflection, continuous contestation not only of the code and the law but also of oneself [8, p. 503].

Kristeva's concept received recognition and spread further among literary critics.

The works of Roland Barthes, Michael Riffaterre, Harold Bloom, and Gérard Genette played a significant role in understanding the category of intertextuality. Even though the object of study in these research papers is the text, we find a difference in the existing approaches. The positions given here, of course, are not exhaustive of everything that has been said about the text.

Barthes states: "Each text is an intertext; other texts are present in it at various levels in more or less recognizable forms: texts of the previous culture and texts of the surrounding culture. Each text is a new fabric woven from old quotes. Fragments of cultural codes, formulas, rhetorical structures, fragments of social idioms, etc., are all absorbed in the text and mixed up in it because there is always a language before and around the text. As a necessary precondition for any text, intertextuality cannot be reduced to the problem of sources and influences; it is a general field of anonymous forms, the origin of which is rarely found, unconscious or automatic citations given without quotation marks" [5, p. 78]. The "text" field of methodological operations [...] is not the product of the disintegration of the work, on the contrary, the work is a plume of the imaginary, stretching behind the text [5, p. 415]. Barthes suggests analyzing the text on the basis of cultural codes: scientific, rhetorical, chronological, sociohistorical, communicative, symbolic, actional, and enigmatic.

Here are a number of other statements by Barthes, which are important for our study as they put forward theses about the openness of the text and inter-textual relations as its basis.

"Text means fabric; however, if until now this fabric has always been considered a veil, behind which meaning (truth) is hidden with more or less success, then we are now talking about this fabric, emphasizing the idea of generation, according to which the text is created, produced by the endless weaving of many threads; lost in this fabric (in its texture), the subject disappears like a spider dissolving in the product of its own secretion, from which it weaves a web" [4, p. 515].

The text is understood as a space where there is a process of forming meanings, i.e., the process of signification. The text is to be observed not as a complete, closed product but as a production going on before our eyes, "connected" to other texts and codes (the sphere of intertextuality), thus connected with society, with history, but connected not by relations of determination but by relations of citation [6, p. 423].

Text infinity, according to Barthes, turns into the Death of the Author. The author is considered the father and master of his work; literary studies, therefore, teach us to respect the author's autograph and the author's stated intentions, and society as a whole legally recognizes the author's connection with his work (this is, however, a relatively young institution, since it was only really legalized in the era of the Revolution). As for the text, there is no record of paternity [...] it can be read without taking into account the will of his father; when the intertext is restored, the right of inheritance is paradoxically abolished. The ghost of the author can, of course, "appear" in the text, in his own text, but only as a guest [5, p. 419].

The statement about the "death of the author" in post-structuralist criticism is balanced by the idea of the "birth of the reader." In this connection, the semiotic theory of the concept of semiosis as a process of generating values is formed in connection with the introduction of the interpreter into the sign theory of the human factor.

Among the theories that study the phenomenon of intertext, one of the central places is occupied by Bloom's theory, which considers the connections between authors and the existing literary tradition. The researcher claims that the writer somehow enters into a kind of struggle against the predecessor, in which he tries to erase his traces. As a result, the author is always faced with the need to find his place within the literary tradition. "Your attitude to what a person forms is tradition because tradition has an influence that extends beyond a single generation [...] The literary tradition begins when the new author is aware at the same time not only that he is fighting against the presence of the predecessor and his images but also that he is submitting to the sense of the predecessor's place in relation to what was before him" [7, p. 161].

The researcher metaphorically compares a similar situation in literature to the Oedipus complex, where the writer of a new generation appears as the son, the public acts as the mother, and the previous artist plays the role of the father, whom the new author kills with his silence, but at the same time, is unable to get rid of: "The blind Oedipus walked along the road leading to the oracle deity, and strong poets followed him, turning their blindness towards the predecessor into revisionist insights of their own work [...] Let's remember how for a hundred years [...] poetic influence has been described as the relationship of father and son, and we recognize that not sonship, but poetic influence is another product of the 'enlightenment'" [7, p. 28].

Riffaterre's intertextual theory focuses on the process of reading, interpreting the text through the intertextual decoding of hypograms leading to meaning through the memory of the word. The researcher introduces the concept of "hypertextuality," a metalanguage phenomenon that is infinite in contextual parameters. Developing Riffaterre's ideas, some researchers specify that "hypertext" is the central concept of any applied system of semantic text processing, which provides an optimal level of its understanding [17, p . 9]. "The practical implementation of hypertext is preceded by the creation of an initial linear text, in which the topic and hypertextual links are clearly defined, not quantitatively limited (and therefore hypertext is an open field of knowledge), basic terms, and special symbols [...] In a linear text, the reader is guided by words, in a hypertext by the ideas recorded in it. If the process of reading a text is promising, i.e., it moves from the past to the future, from segment to segment, and from left to right (at least in the pre-European tradition), connecting known information with new information, then the perception of hypertext is retrospective and assumes reliance on what the commentator already knows: deviations from the consistent verbalization of thought in its syntagmatic embodiment in the text are less likely, the probability of such deviations. Linear text is informatively successive, whereas hypertext is characterized by informative simultaneity [...] Contextual proximity of information components in hypertext is a semantic or extralinguistic contiguity caused by [...] the location of the information in the commented text" [17, p. 8‒9].

The French literary critic Genette defines intertextuality as any relationship between texts, offering a classification of the interaction of texts on five levels:

– intertextuality as the co-presence of two or more texts in one text;

– paratextuality as the relation of a text to its title, epigraph, preface, and afterword;

– metatextuality as a commenting reference to the pretext;

– hypertextuality, orienting the subsequent text to the previous one, without which it cannot be understood

– architectuality, the connection of texts at the level of genres.

The Russian literary critic M. Yampolsky defined the function of intertextuality as follows: "Being a theory of reading (but also a theory of language, a theory of evolution understood through the prism of reading), the theory of intertextuality [...] in no way does it seek to replace other approaches and even leaves out of sight such universal phenomena as, for example, narrative. Its task is more modest; to give through the perspective of reading a new impulse for understanding the functioning of the text where the pockets of semiosis flare-up on the breaks of mimesis (by imitation, similarity, imitation)" [19, p. 419].

Thus, the analysis of existing approaches to interpreting the category of intertextuality shows that scientists in their research turn to understanding its various facets. Despite the difference in scientific positions, it is worth noting that they all agree, defining intertextuality as a mechanism by which a literary text acquires new semantic content appears as a developing system, always in motion, in change.

Similar ideological views are also actualized in musicology. The problem of comprehension of modern music, which presupposes the freedom of realization of the composer's thought at the level of form formation, drama, genre solution, intonation vocabulary, requires the development of a special extended methodological framework. The theory of intertextuality allows us to examine a musical text in detail, to decipher the creator's unique individual handwriting to reveal the secret of the creative idea, and, at the same time, to feel the invisible connections that connect this text with other texts of the past and present.

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