History/ fiction: an intertextual reading of E. L. Doctorow’s Ragtime

Zohreh Ramin, and Seyyed Mohammad Marandi, (2014) History/ fiction: an intertextual reading of E. L. Doctorow’s Ragtime. 3L; Language,Linguistics and Literature,The Southeast Asian Journal of English Language Studies., 20 (1). pp. 157-166. ISSN 0128-5157


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The structural poetics which Gerard Genette bases his theory of intertextuality on focuses its attention on the study of the system, rather than individual works, providing a mapping of the closed system of literature and thus a firm basis for any meaningful analysis of individual works. The major focus of this study is to reveal how Doctorow takes history as the hypo text, combines it with the story of his novel, the hypertext, and employs parody at the same time. To elaborate on how the work is a parody, we can benefit from a new historicist reading of the work. Since we intend to observe the text under the light of Genette’s intertextuality, questions to ask are; how can we observe Ragtime as a parole, and attempt to place it back into a system? To what kind of system does Ragtime belong to? Doctorow challenges the reader to question the nature of historical truth. This is observed once we realise the intertextual relationship between the fictive world of his novel and the history of America as it is recorded and documented by historians. At first sight, it appears that he is mainly depicting the spirit of the ‘Progressive Era’ in the lives of the three representative families. Yet further reading attests to his criticism of any notion of change and progress, especially in the lives of the marginalised and suppressed members of the American society.

Item Type:Article
Keywords:history; fiction; intertextuality; Ragtime; Gerard Genette.
Journal:3L ; Journal of Language, Linguistics and Literature
ID Code:7073
Deposited By: ms aida -
Deposited On:14 Apr 2014 08:54
Last Modified:14 Dec 2016 06:43

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