Intertextuality was invented by Kristeva, in some of the earliest pieces of work she published after her arrival in France from Bulgaria in 1966. It very quickly became popular, and has remained an important and influential concept in literary theory — far more so than other aspects of Tel Quel’s work in the 1960s. It is also, as I shall show in this chapter, extremely relevant to the fiction of the Nouveau Roman; indeed many critics writing on these novels have used it to good effect. However, it does not figure prominently in the theoretical work of the nouveaux romanciers themselves. I suggested at the end of Chapter 3 that intertextuality offers, potentially, a stronger and less problematic basis for theorising the literary text’s relation to ideology than does the (related) notion of textual production, and I will now attempt to explain why; but this possibility was never really taken up by the nouveaux romanciers. It is their fiction, rather than their theory, that explores the intertextual inscription and transformation of social discourse — thus in effect substantiating Françoise van Rossum-Guyon’s comment, quoted at the end of Chapter 3, that their research is often most productively pursued on the level of fictional practice itself. This chapter will therefore concentrate largely on their fictional texts.
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