TCD Question #3 - Intertextual

by Arturo Perez-Reverte

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TCD Question #3 - Intertextual

Unread postby Liz » Wed Aug 06, 2008 1:33 pm

Pg. 95. The narrator: “This is the point at which I enter the stage for the second time. Corso came to me again, and he did so, I seem to remember, a few days before leaving for Portugal. As he told me later, by then he already suspected that the Dumas manuscript and Varo Borja’s Nine Doors were only the tip of the iceberg. To understand it all he first needed to locate the other stories, all knotted together like the tie Enrique Taillefer used to hang himself. It wouldn’t be easy, I told him, because in literature there are never clear boundaries. Everything is dependent on everything else, and one thing is superimposed on top of another. It all ends up as a complicated intertextual game, like a hall of mirrors or those Russian dolls.”

Do you agree with Balkan’s viewpoint on literature?
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Re: TCD Question #3 - Intertextual

Unread postby Gilbert's Girl » Wed Aug 06, 2008 1:43 pm

It made sense when I read it but not sure now .

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Re: TCD Question #3 - Intertextual

Unread postby nebraska » Wed Aug 06, 2008 2:33 pm

More so than real life? I wouldn't think so. I guess I need to go back and read the passage in context.

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Re: TCD Question #3 - Intertextual

Unread postby Parlez » Wed Aug 06, 2008 2:42 pm

I'm not sure if it's true about literature but Balkan's view certainly describes how my real life feels to me most of the time...like a boundary-less hodge-podge of interdependent intertexts. And while it can be amusing/rewarding to review all the interwoven bits and pieces that have led my life to precisely where it is today (and to try to answer the burning question: WHY :baby: ), I find it mostly a bore having to do so in a novel. So, for me, this is one example of the author trying to be too manipulatively intellectual (or, if you like, too intellectually manipulative) for his own good.
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Re: TCD Question #3 - Intertextual

Unread postby Liz » Wed Aug 06, 2008 5:58 pm

Parlez wrote:And while it can be amusing/rewarding to review all the interwoven bits and pieces that have led my life to precisely where it is today (and to try to answer the burning question: WHY :baby: ), I find it mostly a bore having to do so in a novel. So, for me, this is one example of the author trying to be too manipulatively intellectual (or, if you like, too intellectually manipulative) for his own good.

I agree with you, Parlez.

I think real life is an intertexual game. But I had never thought of literature as such until Balkan pointed it out. I think that authors are influenced or inspired by what they have read. Hunter S. Thompson was very definitely influenced by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I think their writing is a sum of what they have read and what they have experienced. I think it is only natural. Some fight that though. I remember at least one author (Tom Robbins?) saying that he did not want to say much about his personal life because he thought that readers would assume that his writing was about himself, which he said it was not.
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Re: TCD Question #3 - Intertextual

Unread postby stroch » Wed Aug 06, 2008 7:46 pm

I think he is referring to the constructed layers of meaning, the allusions, and the consciously chosen influences in a book. They are dependent on one another, and the reader mentally slides back and forth between the actual book, the works alluded to, and the works not overtly cited, but which provide the framework.

The author certainly does that in this book -- so many quotes and asides and references evoke many layers of meaning. That's one of the things I enjoy about Perez-Reverte as a writer - I think he is clever, and he assumes his readers are also. I'm not saying that his books are great literature by any means.

It does rather catch one up short to hear the ghost of Sam Spade in a Portuguese cafe, -- but it was fun.
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Re: TCD Question #3 - Intertextual

Unread postby Parlez » Wed Aug 06, 2008 7:53 pm

You bring up an interesting point, Liz. Unfortunately I don't know enough about, or pay enough attention to, or have enough interest in, the influences of other writers on any given author...I just pick 'em up and read 'em. And I must confess that if I wanted a lesson in Modern Conventions of Fiction Writing 101 - plot devices, subtexts, intertexts, influences, etc. - I'd get a proper book on the subject or take a course. But I'm not a writer; I'm the reader. Am I supposed to care about that stuff?

Also, I'm not sure what the 'other stories' are that Corso is referring to in this passage and is being duly warned about by the narrator. The 'other stories' of the people involved? Or the 'other stories' by the authors the people involved are collecting? Well, it's possible this is all too convoluted and has gone completely over my head. I need to go back and read it again in context.
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Re: TCD Question #3 - Intertextual

Unread postby Liz » Wed Aug 06, 2008 8:31 pm

Some definitions of intertexuality:





What intertexuality is not according to the Literary Encyclopedia:

You can't judge a book by its cover.

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Re: TCD Question #3 - Intertextual

Unread postby Liz » Wed Aug 06, 2008 8:37 pm

Parlez wrote:Also, I'm not sure what the 'other stories' are that Corso is referring to in this passage and is being duly warned about by the narrator. The 'other stories' of the people involved? Or the 'other stories' by the authors the people involved are collecting? Well, it's possible this is all too convoluted and has gone completely over my head. I need to go back and read it again in context.
:dunce:

I'm not sure what "other stories" really refers to. I think I was assuming Balkan meant the other 2 Nine Doors books. But he could have been referring to The Three Musketeers. Not sure. In regard to the context of this, most of the rest of the chapter is taken up with Balkan and his literary groupies discussing Rochefort while Corso is getting ansy and wants to discuss Nine Doors.
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Re: TCD Question #3 - Intertextual

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Wed Aug 06, 2008 8:58 pm

From Liz's link:

Intertextual - Relating to or deriving meaning from the interdependent ways in which texts stand in relation to each other.

Thanks for the definition, Liz. I didn't really understand what Balkan was getting at until I read the definition. I can see now how it relates to the story in TCD as well as the influence authors have on each other as you referenced with HST. stroch, your description of "consciously chosen influences in a book" is helpful too. I can now check off "learned something new today" in my to do list!
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Re: TCD Question #3 - Intertextual

Unread postby Gilbert's Girl » Thu Aug 07, 2008 5:45 am

:hills:

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Re: TCD Question #3 - Intertextual

Unread postby Parlez » Thu Aug 07, 2008 8:34 am

Sigh. You're right, Liz - going back and reading the passage in context didn't help...except to say I suppose the author was trying to get the reader to connect the 'other stories' to T3M since the conversation that ensued was about Rochefort.

If I attempt to equate the issue of intertextuality with an art form I do know something about (namely visual art), I'd say it's mildly amusing for me to go into an art gallery and be able to see certain influences, styles, and inspirations from past artists in any given contemporary artists' work. And I suppose it would be somewhat gratifying, ego-wise, if I were to point those things out to someone who wasn't familiar with Art History or who had never taken Art Appreciation 101. But, really, doing so would only be an attempt on my part to show off my ability to be manipulatively intellectual, or vice verse if you prefer. In the end, I should keep quite and let the work speak for itself. It certainly shouldn't need a lot of explanation or whoop-de-do interpretation in order to be understood or valued by the uninformed viewer.

So I rest my case (with a slight headache) about the author getting too clever and convoluted here for his own good.
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Re: TCD Question #3 - Intertextual

Unread postby Buster » Thu Aug 07, 2008 8:56 am

It seems to me, from the second definition that Liz posted, that intertextuality is more about the stories that a given culture shares.
For example, Tim Burton once pointed out that although few people have actually read Irving's Legend of Sleepy Hollow, the image of the Headless Horseman is seared into the American subconscious. It is this awareness of cultural context that enriches a story, just as a working knowledge of historical precedent adds a new perspective to art.
I get a kick out of the cross-references in Johnny's films - and, as a Keaton fan, of all the little homages he pays to Buster.

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Re: TCD Question #3 - Intertextual

Unread postby Parlez » Thu Aug 07, 2008 9:23 am

Oh yes yes yes! That's so true, Buster!
When I went to the film, I'm Not There, I had so much fun seeing all the connections to Bob Dylan's life, all the images and funky little details and goodies that only a die-hard Dylan fan would pick up on. Those things are definitely seared into my consciousness and made viewing the film an incredible experience for me. But I have to say I can't imagine people who aren't so immersed in every nuance of all things Dylan would come away from this very surreal take on his life with the same satisfied feeling I had. Even considering that they had some knowledge of Dylan and some idea of him as a cultural icon, if they didn't have the background information to make the intertextual connections, as it were, they missed a lot, IMO.

A few minutes and a couple of asprins later ~
I need to add (for a last-ditch attempt at clarity and staying on topic): my point is that what we know about any given subject enhances our enjoyment of it. I know a ton about Dylan; ergo the film had great meaning and enjoyment for me. I know virtually nothing about Dumas, T3M, Sherlock Holmes, et.al., which the author references in TCD; ergo I feel like I missed out in the meaning/enjoyment department with this book. It appears that we each bring our unique knowledge base into everything we do - reading, watching movies, looking at art, whatever. In that regard, our own intertextual stuff comes into play all the time.

Am I making sense?? :headache:
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Re: TCD Question #3 - Intertextual

Unread postby nebraska » Thu Aug 07, 2008 11:20 am

Parlez, you make sense to me when you say that what we know about the background of subjects makes it all more enjoyable. That is why the Libertine and Sweeney Todd were within my grasp - because of all the discussions here and various other materials I studied beforehand - and I trembled for Johnny putting those movies out to the general public whom I suspected had little knowledge of either. TCD does rely on frequent references to the 3 Musketeers and I decided to read the book to "heighten my enjoyment and understanding" of TCD. I am not sure it is necessary to have that much background on the characters, however, to "get" Corso's story.

I suspect that Balkan was referring to the other two editions of the Nine Doors which formed the answer to the puzzle when all taken together; however, that was not the whole thing, either, with the Anjou Wine manuscript being a central part of the story. On the other hand, he may have just been manipulating Corso and drawing him into the web.

Pass the aspirin, please.


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