• Murray Roston


The acceptance within contemporary criticism of the concept of ‘intertextuality’, of cultural interchange crossing the boundaries between the media, has provided fresh validation for interdisciplinary studies. Within the sphere of literature, post-modernists have come to acknowledge how authors inevitably bring to the process of composition minds steeped in previous reading, absorbing and transforming themes, images, phrases, and associations derived from the texts of others; and such recognition has been extended to include, as part of that creative process, the incorporation of elements drawn from the broader matrix of communicative experience prevalent in that generation. The ‘I’ which approaches the task of writing, as Roland Barthes has argued, is itself to be seen as a plurality of other texts and codes assimilated from outside sources, those sources not always literary.1 As a result, current gender assumptions, power struggles in the political arena, shifts in class structure, and fluctuations in the economic sphere are now perceived as con-texts stimulating the author’s inventiveness.


Creative Artist Contemporary Criticism Previous Reading Current Gender Aesthetic Concept 
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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    Roland Barthes, S/Z (Paris, 1970), p. 16. On intertextuality, see especially Julia Kristeva, Semiotké: récherches pour une sémanalyse (Paris, 1969), p. 146, and on the oedipal conflict between writers and their predecessors, Harold Bloom, The Anxiety of Influence: a theory of poetry (New York, 1973).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Stephen Greenblatt, Shakespearean Negotiations: the circulation of social energy in Renaissance England (Berkeley, 1988), p. 86. Readers alert to the most recent trends in critical theory, in the areas both of literary research and of art history, will have perceived the emergence in the past decade of a swing back to the necessity once again of ‘situating’ works and events within the cultural motifs of their time. Donald Preziosi’s Rethinking Art History (New Haven, 1989), for example, especially pp. 48–50, resists the view of art fostered by Baxandall, Fried and others, who had seen it as ‘representation’ in the narrower sense, as a second reality existing alongside the day-to-day. That view, Preziosi argues, has led to the near exclusion of the importance of art as a powerful social instrument for the creation and maintenance of the world we live in, and he claims that the time has come to reinstate the latter view, to replace art within the cultural and social setting of its time. For the earlier view, see Michael Baxandall, Painting and Experience in Fifteenth-century Italy (Oxford, 1972) and Michael Fried, Absorption and Theatricality: painting and beholder in the age of Diderot (Berkeley, 1980).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Cf. for example, the perception of Victorian Neo-Gothic architecture as a partially unconscious attempt to evoke the authoritative rule of past eras at a time of social unrest and threatened Jacobinism, in Alice Chandler, A Dream of Order: the medieval ideal in nineteenth-century English literature (Lincoln, Na., 1970); and on commodity culture, Jonathan Freedman, Professions of Taste (Stanford, 1990).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Arnold Hauser’s stimulating study, The Social History of Art 4 vols (New York, 1951) adopted a primarily one-directional approach, assuming in Marxist terms that almost all developments in the arts are attributable to capitalist processes, rather than to the continuous interaction of artist or writer with a much wider range of fluctuations in contemporary society, including the philosophical, religious and scientific.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    The Madonna painting depicted in Leighton’s canvas and described in the title as a Cimabue was, in fact, identified in later years as a Duccio. William Gaunt’s biography Victorian Olympus (London, 1952) describes the admiration aroused by the young Leighton.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    The literary implications are examined in Earl Miner, ‘That Literature is a Kind of Knowledge’, Critical Inquiry, 2 (1976), 501; and W.J.T. Mitchell, ‘Spatial Form in Literature: towards a general theory’. Critical Inquiry, 6 (1980), 539 (which quotes Wayne Booth’s comment without recording the source). There is an account of the history of spatial concepts and their psychological implications in Max Jammer, Concepts of Space (New York, 1960), pp. 3–4, and of spatial metaphor in Rudolf Arnheim’s essay ‘Space as an Image of Time’, in K. Kroeber and W. Walding (ed.), Images of Romanticism (New Haven, 1978), pp. 1–12.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    As Alice herself remarks of this poem: ‘Somehow it seems to fill my head with ideas — only I don’t exactly know what they are.’ The section devoted to him below, in the chapter on Dickens, provides details of Carroll’s careful supervision of the drawings, as well as a fuller discussion of the way his work manifests his religious concerns.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    As part of the distrust of interart studies related to historical periods, there has emerged in recent years a focus upon ekphrasis, the attempt by writers, especially poets, to describe or respond verbally to paintings or other artefacts, that response being seen in post-modernist criticism as revealing an intrinsic conflict between word and image. Such instances are outside the parameters of this present study, which concentrates instead upon the filaments connecting writer and artist as they function organically within their own media, not in those rarer instances of a hybrid art form. The two leading works in that critical field have been Murray Krieger’s Ekphrasis: the illusion of the natural sign (Baltimore, 1991) and W.J.T. Mitchell’s ‘Ekphrasis and the Other’ South Atlantic Quarterly, 91 (1992), 695, for which his Iconology: image text, ideology (Chicago, 1986) had laid the groundwork. For a recent and informative collection of essays on this theme, see Carol T. Christ and John O. Jordan (ed.), Victorian Literature and Victorian Visual Imagination (Berkeley, 1995).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Murray Roston 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Murray Roston
    • 1
  1. 1.Bar Ilan UniversityRamat GanIsrael

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