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Subject Literature

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405168908.2010.x


In one sense “text” is simply a neutral term for any cultural object of investigation, whether a piece of W riting , a ritual activity, a C ity , or a mode of knowledge. Thus in literary theory “text” is commonly used in place of such generic designations as “lyric” or “novel” in order to leave open the question of whether what is being examined is generically specifiable. Virginia W oolf's The Waves , for example, sets out to confound the distinction between the lyric and the novel; and Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale is simultaneously (perhaps deliberately) a tragedy, a comedy, and a romance. Similarly, L évi-Strauss's Tristes tropiques employs novelistic techniques even though it is ostensibly an anthropological text. In other uses of the term, however, “text” can be not at all innocent but heavily loaded with meaning. Although D errida's infamous remark that “There is nothing outside the text” (1967a ( 1976) , p. 227) has been mistaken as a denial that there is anything other than language, even its more credible interpretation – that if one tries to go to R ousseau's biography in order to understand something that he has written, one is still dealing with written records of his life that were mostly written by him – still, the claim has far-reaching implications. For K risteva (1974a (1984), pp. 99–106) texts are generated by complex psychosocial-biological processes ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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