1. Genette, Paratexts
  2. Genette, Paratexts
  3. Reviews | Forum for Modern Language Studies | Oxford Academic

Introduction to the Paratext*. Gerard Genette. HE LITERARY WORK consists, exhaustively or essentially, of a text, that is to say (a very minimal definition) in a. Cambridge Core - Literary Theory - Paratexts - by Gerard Genette. Frontmatter. pp i-vi. Access. PDF; Export citation List of books by Gérard Genette. pp xxiii-. Genette, Paratexts - Ebook download as PDF File .pdf), Text File .txt) or read book online.

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Gérard Genette, Paratexts: Thresholds of Interpretation. Translated by Jane E. Lewin and foreword by Richard Macksey. Cambridge: Cambridge University. GENETTE, GERARD. Paratexts: Thresholds of Interpretation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (Literature, Culture, Theory 20), xxv + pp. PDF | A text relation with other texts has been a significant subject, To Genette, the paratext marks the components at the threshold of the text.

Sterne, Tristram Shandy, III, 36 Laurence Sterne, that pioneer anatomist of the physical body of the book, is offering advice to one of the much put-upon fictive readers of his antic text. What follows is indeed a literal''marbled page," which by the convention of eighteenth-century binders marks the outermost limits of the text and by the nature of its production is both unique and stylized. As the Russian formalist critic Viktor Shklovsky2 long ago pointed out, Tristram Shandy "lays bare" the constructional principles of the 1 Some of Sterne's commentators claim that "the veil of the black one'' refers to Satan. Significantly, the black page, overdetermined to the point of illegibility, is a memorial to Sterne's alter ego, Yorick. XI Foreword novel as genre by a series of devices priemy that fundamentally disturb the narrative conventions of the book. In the case of the liminal devices or "paratextual" elements, this means the radical dislocation of readerly expectations: dedications and prefaces are scattered within the text and on one occasion a dedication is put up for sale ; notes, glosses, intercalations, and misplaced chapter headings interrupt the conventional diegetic progress of the narrative. The signs of authorship are repeatedly undone: the author whose name does not appear on the title page of the original edition , the narrator, and the dramatized reader change places; the author's sermon intercalated in II, 17 is judged a plagiarism and reattributed to Yorick, a character within the novel, and a name which will eventually become the author's pseudonym when his own sermons are collected.

Derrida, Barthes, and, a fortiori, Blanchot and Lacan present much greater challenges to the translator. It is not even a matter of the company he has kept, since he has been a key figure among the critics associated with two of the most influential Parisian journals of our era, Tel quel and Poetique. It remains rather a matter of the vagaries of Xll Foreword publishing activity and perhaps Genette's stubborn refusal to be easily categorized: he has at various times been called many names - structuralist both "high" and "low" , narratologist, historian of discursivity, rhetorician, semiotician of style, postmodern poetician, mimologist, transtextualist;3 but throughout his career certain preoccupations and a characteristic rigor have marked all his publications.

Thanks in large part to the efforts of Jane E. Lewin, the admirable translator of the present book, six volumes of his work have already appeared in English, but most have been relatively short works. Happily this situation is at last about to be remedied. In addition to Seuils Paratexts , a translation of one other large volume has just appeared Mimologiques and another is about to be published Palimpsestes , which will allow his English readers a much more comprehensive survey of Genette's achievement.

It opened a number of his abiding concerns: the relation of classical rhetoric to contemporary discursive practice, the reciprocations between criticism and poetics, the nature of litterarite, the unceasing play between the specific text and the larger literary figuration of which it is a continuous part.

His second collection of essays, Figures II, appeared three years later and extended his presiding concerns with narrative theory and the poetics of language. In Figures III collected important essays on "Critique et poetique," "Poetique et histoire," "La Rhetorique restreinte," and "Metonymie chez Proust," but the largest part of the book was devoted to an extended narratologic discussion of the syntax of narrative, with Proust as the exemplary text. His systematic analyses of the order, duration, frequency, mood, and voice of narrative structure have become canonical among students of fiction.

At the level of applied criticism, pari passu, the 3 "Narratology" is a term first coined in by Genette's colleague and collaborator Tzvetan Todorov.

Morgan in and has announced a forthcoming translation of Palimpsestes by Channa Newman. Xlll Foreword subtle readings of the case texts, which are at once illustrative of narrative functions and uniquely Proustian in their transgressions, constitute a major contribution to Proust studies.

Genette, Paratexts

More than a decade later, in Nouveau discours du recit , which he modestly styled "a sort of postscript," Genette returned to his classic formulation of the fundamental elements of narrative, tightening his definitions, refining the systematic presentation with renewed attention to the connections among the choices of mood "point of view" , voice "person" , and narrative level "embedding".

And throughout, the author replies directly and amusingly to his critics. Lewin translated this text under the English title of Narrative Discourse Revisited in Turning in to an issue in the poetics of language that had engaged Peirce, Benveniste, Gardiner, Jakobson, and Levi-Strauss among many others before him, Genette produced an immense study of "cratylism," of authors since Plato who have questioned the arbitrary nature of the linguistic sign.

Attending to the cultural as well as epistemological implications of resurgent "Cratylan" arguments, Genette discusses theories of language origins, hieroglyphs, onomatopoetics, mimographisms, mimophonies, and other representational schemes.

With a small volume in , Introduction a Varchitexte also translated by Lewin , Genette opened a new phase in his mapping of a general poetics. The topology he is exploring here includes the various borderlands between the text and the 5 Josef Derbolav, Platons Sprachphilosophie im Kratylos und in den Spateren Schriften For additional perspectives on the long debate opened by Plato's Cratylus, see: Darmstadt, , Bernard E. Thus his incisive treatment of Ernest Renan's fierce Eurocentrism and geomimologie anticipates by several years Edward Said's discussion in Orientalism.

He states the project modestly enough in the imaginary interview that concludes the book: "[F]or the moment the text interests me only in its textual transcendence - namely, everything that brings it into relation manifest or hidden with other texts. I call that transtextuality..

The particular form of transcendence that he considers in the Architexte is the traditional domain of generic criticism, which Genette extends to include modes of enunciation and types of discourse. He defines the relationship more generally as one "of inclusion that links each text to the various types of discourse it belongs to. Here we have the genres, with their determinations that we've already glimpsed: thematic, modal, formal, and other" He thus joins the enterprise initiated by Aristotle in the Poetics, a systematic text that Genette seeks to disentangle from a long tradition of wrong-headed readings.

He then proceeds to consider specifically the relations that he styles "hypertextual. The most obvious modern example is Joyce's Ulysses "hypertext" superimposed on Homer's Odyssey "hypotext" , but the relationship covers all forms of imitation, adaptation, parody, and pastiche. Lewin Berkeley and Los Angeles, , One of Genette's significant contributions to contemporary poetics is his rescue of Aristotle from what he sees as a tradition of romantic misreading.

Of course the hypertextual relationship of Ullysses to Homer's epic is less than obvious without the novelist's chapter titles, which Joyce suppressed in the published version of the book.

Genette works out the complex network of correspondences between the eighteen chapters of the novel and Homer's original narrative in a detailed diagram; see Palimpsestes Paris, , XV Foreword mine of hypertextual games, often intradiegetically: thus before turning to Cervantes, his indefatigable Pierre Menard had undertaken "a transposition of the Cimitiere marin into alexandrines. Before considering the present volume, which completes the " trans textual trilogy," to bring Genette's publishing itinerary up to date, we should note two more recent books: Fiction et diction , translated by Catherine Porter in and L'CEuvre de Vart The first of these is a series of four essays, that returns to some of his earliest concerns about "literariness," what it is that makes a text an aesthetic object.

But like the volumes of the trilogy it also investigates the unstable frontiers between realms, between the literary and the nonliterary but also between the two modes of "fiction" which depends for its force on the imaginary nature of what it describes and "diction" whose efficacy depends on its formal characteristics. He extends these border distinctions in discussions of how speech acts relate to fictional statements and of the differences between fictional narratives and those based on fact autobiography, history.

The collection concludes with a semiotic definition of style. And finally, in L'CEuvre de Vart Genette announces an ambitious new project that will take him from the domain of poetics to that of general aesthetics, addressing at a higher level of abstraction the status and functions of art. In his title he plays on the double sense of "the work of art" Voeuvre d'art and "the work of that art-work.

Following Nelson Goodman, he further distinguishes kinds of immanence between the "autographic" and the "allographic. Genette adopts Goodman's distinction between the status of those art works where the authenticity of the immanent object is crucial e.

In a brief introduction to a special issue of Poetique devoted to essays on the paratext by members of a seminar at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes, Genette speaks of their topic as "this fringe at the unsettled limits that enclose with a pragmatic halo the literary work. In a selfcontained work, Paratexts also presents some of the characteristic virtues of Genette's criticism early and late.

These virtues include clarity of exposition, systematic precision, a vast range of literary example - all products of an agile and original theoretical mind. As a major player in contemporary poetics and narrative theory, Genette is able to situate even his most detailed analyses within are styled "autographic," the latter "allographic. L'CEuvre de Vart Paris, , Translation mine. This book is the first volume of an announced pair. From the author's priere d'inserer for L'CEuvre de Vart.

Genette has been for many years Directeur d'etudes in the history and theory of literary forms at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales. XV11 11 12 13 Foreword the framework of larger critical issues. To his perseverance in systematic development must be added that Shandean humor noted earlier, which explodes jokes amid the soberest topics, a rare quality in the higher reaches of contemporary poetics. At this point, since the terminology is precise but occasionally at variance with the usages of other critics, the reader of Paratexts may find it useful to see the work situated within Genette's general poetics of transtextuality, alluded to above.

Writing in Palimpsestes he observes that the following five-element schema is arranged in ascending order of "abstraction, implicitation, and globality.

Intertextuality: A textual transcendence that Genette defines in what he admits is "an undoubtedly restrictive manner": 15 "a relation of co-presence between two or more texts, that is to say, eidetically and most often, by the literal presence of one text within another" 8. Quotation, the explicit summoning up of a text that is both presented and distanced by quotation marks, is the most obvious example of this type of function, which may also include plagiarism and allusion of various kinds.

Since Genette feels this form of transtextuality has been vigorously studied in recent years, he sees no need for another book on the subject.

Paratextuality: The subject of the present book, comprising those liminal devices and conventions, both within the book peritext and outside it epitext , that mediate the book to the reader: titles and subtitles, pseudonyms, forewords, dedications, epigraphs, prefaces, intertitles, notes, epilogues, and afterwords - all those framing elements that so engaged Sterne; but also the elements in the public and private history of the book, its "epitext," that are analyzed in the latter part of this volume: "public epitexts" from the author or publisher as well as "private epitexts" authorial correspondence, oral confidences, diaries, and pre-texts.

Palimpsestes, The translations from this passage in the schema are mine. Thisfive-elementsystem is a refinement on the presentation in the Architexte, where Genette had made do with four levels of transtextuality. Very generally he associates his "classic" notion of intertextuality with that of Julia Kristeva in Semeiotike Paris, rather than with the much broader sense of the term enlisted by Michael Riffaterre in La Production du texte Paris, ; English translation, New York, and elsewhere.

XVlll Foreword 3. Metatextuality: The transtextual relationship that links a commentary to "the text it comments upon without necessarily citing it. Since a systematic discussion of metatextuality would require a comprehensive survey of all literary criticism whether explicit or implicit , the author feels such a task must be deferred to the indefinite future.

Hypertextuality: The "literature in the second degree" discussed above: the superimposition of a later text on an earlier one that includes all forms of imitation, pastiche, and parody as well as less obvious superimpositions.

Architextuality [or architexture]: The most abstract and implicit of the transcendent categories, the relationship of inclusion linking each text to the various kinds of discourse of which it is a representative. Conventionally, the paratextual elements - title or preface - can be enlisted to define an architext. These generic and modal relationships are surveyed in Introduction a Varchitexte. Paratexts is especially rich in these regions of ambiguity. Thus the terrain of the paratext poses intriguing problems for any speech-act analysis, situated as it is between the first-order illocutionary domain of the public world and that of the second-order speech-acts of fiction.

As Genette suggests in his Introduction, the special pragmatic status of paratextual declarations requires a carefully calibrated analysis of their illocutionary force. While he charts a topology that abounds in precisions and neologisms , repeatedly drawing distinctions reminiscent of High 16 For a recent account of parody and pastiche that is both analytic and historical, At the beginning of Palimpsestes, Genette notes that Louis Marin had already used the term architexte in 'Tour une theorie du texte parabolique," an essay in Claude Chabrol and Louis Marin, he Recit evangelique Paris, , f.

Genette remarks, however, that this usage for an originary text can be easily assimilated to his own term hypotexte, adding with mock impatience: "It's about time that some Commissioner of the Republic of Letters impose on us a coherent terminology" 7. XIX see Margaret A. Each element is studied as a literary function. He is thus equally concerned with the anatomy and physiology of the devices. Similarly, he is constantly alert to ways in which these paratextual devices can be both conventional in their form and highly original in their deployment.

From authorial "pre-texts" to public and private "epitexts," Genette is lucidly systematic in his development and often brilliantly apt in his illustrations. These literary examples range over nearly three millennia from Homer and Virgil to Nabokov, Pynchon, Perec, and inevitably Proust. The references are also strenuously "comparative," drawing from a wide range of national literatures and conventional practices. He points out, for instance, that one of the most familiar forms of public epitext, the "interview," arrived only very late in France, , and was based on an American model.

Similarly, he is able to distinguish the francophone priere d'inserer, often implicitly or explicitly the voice of the author, from the anglophone blurb or jacket copy, which issues from the publisher. In its scope and exactitude Paratexts constitutes an encyclopedic survey of the customs and institutions of the Republic of Letters as they are revealed in the borderlands of the text, a neglected region that the book maps with exceptional rigor.

Other scholars have studied the literary use of individual paratextual elements, but Genette seems to be the first to present a global view of liminal mediations and the logic of their relation to the reading public.

Any book of this magnitude inevitably casts the shadow of what it does not propose to do. Genette is explicit about this.

In his epilogue he mentions three aspects of paratextuality that he has omitted: translation, particularly when the author is collaboratively engaged in the process; the issuing of the text in serialized form; and the inclusion of illustrations, especially those supplied by the author. But there are other aspects of scholarship that are deliberately refused.

Genette, Paratexts

Although the literary examples cover the canon of Western literature, the study is resolutely synchronic, "un essai de tableau general," and does not claim to be a history of paratextuality. Save for his local and often brilliant accounts of specific paratextual devices, Genette is not concerned xx Foreword with the evolution of forms but with their functions, defined with as much precision as possible. His meticulous anatomies and taxonomic distinctions trace an exhaustive list of logical relationships and modal inflections: of "text" to "book" and of the book to the audience; of the status of the writer; and of enunciative temporalities - the "anterior" and degrees of the "ulterior" and "posterior," the "anthumous" and the "posthumous," etc.

Thus the discussion of prefaces pace Sterne generates a nine-element grid for situating the writer according to "role" and "regime" see the chart in Chapter 8 under "Senders". These precisions could have proven exhausting as well as exhaustive an ambition the author explicitly denies were it not for Genette's humor and richness of illustration.

As in the case of Sterne, this humor and richness are pervasive, a signature of his style nicely captured here by his translator : the sentences are alive, not wooden or routine or mechanical. The author's personal tone informs even what would normally be the dullest material or the most academic demonstrations. In addition to studying these mediating devices, Paratexts also resumes, in isolated passages, questions of the hypertext and readership that had been approached from another angle in Palimpsestes.

This could be seen as an invitation to the reader to push beyond the poetics of liminal structures toward a consideration of the way these discursive functions interact with the more general question of literature as a cultural institution.

While such an exploration would extend into another kind of pragmatic borderland, this may be a direction - already implicit in his work - that Genette will explore in subsequent books.

The author's reticence before the "institutional question" may reflect a more general contemporary reluctance about addressing the social consequences of theory. Pausing on the threshold of Paratexts, we return finally to Sterne's liminal invitation to his reader at the marbled page, poised on the cusp of the synecdochic relationship between the text and its container.

The invitation and challenge is to read, with vigilance as well as knowledge, and, as Sterne also reminds us, to become through this reading a collaborator in the on-going literary construction. And by recognizing the complex conventions of "the book" we are thus invited to understand how we unwittingly are manipulated by its paratextual elements.

Genette xxi Foreword too challenges us to read through the conventions of the paratext to the discursive life of the book, which in turn enables the reading with renewed vigor of other books.

Paris: Editions du Seuil, Lewin: Cambridge University Press, ] Fiction et diction. Barthes and T. Todorov], Recherches de Proust. Debray-Genette and Todorov], Travail de Flaubert. Benichou and Todorov], Pensee de Rousseau.

Esthetique et poetique. Genette has also published a valuable edition of Dumarsais's Les Tropes with commentary by P.

Fontanier from the Paris edition of Geneva: Slatkine, All bracketed material in both the text and the footnotes is the translator's, except bracketed comments within quotations: those are the author's. Every title mentioned is identified by author the first time it appears in a chapter, except titles of works in the following two categories: 1 works originally written in English and 2 nonEnglish works that are considered classics for example, the Iliad, the Decameron, Madame Bovary, War and Peace, The Trial.

Although the author often illustrates his points with references to French literature, readers who are not familiar with the works or authors he invokes will have no trouble grasping his points most of the time. Thus, annotations of material that in itself may be unfamiliar are generally not necessary.

Only when the author's point would be unclear without an explanation have I supplied one. Some sources of quotations from works originally published in English or from published English translations of works originally written in a language other than English are given in the notes; all others are listed following page Unattributed translations of quotations originally written in French are mine.

Hillis Miller's "The Critic as Host," Genette writes of the polysemy of "para": 'Para' is a double antithetical prefix signifying at once proximity and distance, similarity and difference, interiority and exteriority A thing in 'para,' moreover, is not only simultaneously on both sides of the boundary line between inside and outside.

It is also the boundary itself, the screen which is a permeable membrane connecting inside and outside.

Reviews | Forum for Modern Language Studies | Oxford Academic

Paratexts 1n2 Although there is an intertwined and uncertain spatial and temporal order of a "para" object, the occurrence of a paratextual element is part of the publicisation of the literary work: We do not always know whether these productions are to be regarded as belonging to the text, in any case they surround it, precisely in order to present it, in the usual sense of this verb but also in the strongest sense: to make present, to ensure the text's presence in the world, its 'reception' and consumption in the form nowadays, at least of a book.

This, however, is a tricky terrain to map. And if there is a difficulty in following Genette's conception of the paratextual, it is located in this cartographically blurry critical space or, "threshold" which, for Genette, has no fixed location. That is, not all books contain the same paratextual elements identically arranged. The epitext, then, denotes elements "outside" the bound volume—public or private elements such as interviews, reviews, correspondence, diaries etc.

Unpacking the paratextual dynamics of "the cover and its appendages," for example, Genette distinguishes four book covers: front cover, inside front cover, back cover, and inside back cover Genette also explores the function of the spine of the book and dust jacket in this section—paratexts that contain several of the same elements found on the covers. Combined the covers contain a variety of paratextual contexts that may potentially steer readers to have expectations of, if not to particular readings of the literary work.

The name of the author, publisher, title, laudatory comments, excerpts from reviews, biographical notices, indication of genre "a novel" and publisher information pre-dispose readers to opinions of the literary work before they have commenced reading the work.