Chester Chun Seng Kam and Xitao Fan
David F. Gillespie
Susanne C. Moser
Intratextuality is a critical term used to explore the relationship between the parts and the whole in texts, including issues of unity (and disunity), the relationship between digressions and their surroundings, interactions between disparate parts of texts (such as ring composition), juxtapositions that may reflect surprisingly on their neighbours, or any structural issue within a single work of literature. Intratextual approaches may also be interested in ways in which the activity of a reader affects response to the text, for example by dividing it into mental “paragraphs.” Crucial to intratextual reading is that all these relationships be interpretable.
Intratextuality is a term developed in the 1990s to describe and theorise the relationship between the parts and the whole in classical texts. Although its roots go back at least as far as Aristotle’s discussions of literary unity (Poetics 1451a), the modern and explicitly theorised consideration of intratextuality arose out of the blossoming of literary theory in Classics during the final quarter of the last century, through interactions with post-structuralism, reader-response criticism, narratology, and especially intertextuality.