- Claire ColebrookClaire ColebrookDepartment of English, Pennsylvania State University
The concept of the rhizome was first articulated in Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari’s Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature, published in French in 1975 and translated into English in 1986. Here the term emerges from a reading of Kafka’s description of movements in his novels and short stories, but it is also tied to a mode of reading and of composition. In Mille Plateaux (1980), translated into English as A Thousand Plateaus in 1987, the term has both a broad reference towards modes of thinking and analyzing that are nonhierarchical and decentered, and a more specifically literary sense of styles of writing. In A Thousand Plateaus, the term is introduced in order to describe a mode of composition that is distinct from the book, and a theory of language that is opposed to a basic structure, logic, or grammar from which variations develop. Languages and dialects do not emerge from a central grammar; instead, everything begins with variations of sound and sense. There is no universal grammar; every language has its distinct mode of growth. It is therefore illegitimate to talk of grammar “trees,” and far better to think of variation without a center. Rather than a linear development or progression, a rhizomatic text is composed of multiple points of entry. A rhizome is a lateral, decentered, proliferating, and interconnected web of relations and is therefore unlike the hierarchical (root, branch, offshoots) model of a tree.
- Literary Theory