The cultural mediational dynamics of literary intertexts: An approach to the problem of generative and transformational dynamics

Katalin Kroó


The paper raises the theoretical question of the cultural mediational nature of literary intertexts from the point of view of generic and transformational dynamics. The intertextual complex as mediational operator is examined at two levels – (1) in the context of cultural diachrony by observing how the literary work establishes its place in the history of literature closely connected to the metapoiesis of the text; (2) at various kinds of intratextual interlevel movements regulating the evolution of a whole intertextual system within the work. Differentiating the ontological, generative and transformational conceptualization of intertextual poetics, an attempt is made to define the basic textual modes of the pretext, the intext and the intertext by describing their functionality in the building of an intersemiotic literary system. The relevant functions are grasped by shedding light upon the types of the sign of which the given signifying structures consist (here a terminological clarification and re-evaluation are added) and their textual semantics in terms of referential and relational quality (cf. the different versions of referential and relational semantics). In the first place, however, the paper aims at outlining the structure and content of the generic-transformational semiotic processes in which the dynamic aspects of intertextual semiosis are revealed. Within this framework, the processuality of the development of the intertextual signifying structure is elucidated, shown as a chain of reciprocal sign activities resulting in constantly evolving semantic shifts within the intra- and intertextual semiosis processes, all relying on mediational operations. Text examples are taken from and references made to works by A. S. Pushkin, I. S. Turgenev, F. M. Dostoevsky and J. M. Coetzee.


SIGN SYSTEMS STUDIES. ISSN 1406-4243 (print), 1736-7409 (online). E-mail: Postal address: Sign Systems Studies, Dept. of Semiotics, University of Tartu, Jakobi St. 2, 51014 Tartu, Estonia