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ISSN 1409-6900 | UDK 82+7     Blesok no. 63 | volume XI | November-December, 2008



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                     Peer-reviewed journal
Blesok no. 63November-December, 2008
Essays

A Dialogue with Our Predecessors

(or: the Macedonian woman writer, a daughter of many fathers and few mothers)


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Elizabeta Bakovska

As early as 1922, T.S. Eliot in his well-known essay “Tradition and the Individual Talent” states the great truth about the nature and place of each poet (and artist in a broader sense): no poet, no artist has a complete meaning in himself. In order to value a poet (writer), he has to find his place in the established history and system of his predecessors, by contrast and comparison with them. However, according to Eliot, the act of establishing a new order, the insertion of the writer in his (or her) tradition is a purposeful act, and the author can “disturb” the system of his literary tradition only if he is aware of it.
    The idea of the author who returns to his tradition and reconstructs it to find his own place in it is further developed by Mikhail Bakhtin; focusing on Dostoevsky's work, he says that every word strives to an answer, without being able to avoid the essential influence of the answer it anticipates. Thus, says Bakhtin, every word is dialogical in its nature, and therefore it has to be analyzed as a part of a dialogue. Furthering on Bakhtin's thesis, the French-Bulgarian theorist Julia Kristeva in her work “Séméiôtiké: recherches pour une sémanalyse” (1969) introduced what is now a trendy term – intertextuality, explaining it theoretically, but also practically demonstrating it in her reading of Bakhtin. Inserting text at every place Bakhtin uses word, she says that “every word (text) is a crossword of words (texts).”
    Although the term intertextuality is a neologism in itself, its meaning is an old, well-known practice – Shakespeare (who is also paid the due tribute by Eliot in his essay mentioned above) is one of the most famous practitioners of intertextuality; his plays (in a quite liberal interpretation) are nothing but original remakes of previously known legends, stories and historical records. Sometimes, intertextuality is considered to be a simple expansion of the old idea of influence; however, it also carries a new element in itself – the conscious returning and using of the previous literary (and other) tradition as opposed to the relatively unconscious nature of influence. Thus, in the work of the writer who consciously (intentionally) uses intertextuality, it carries a double challenge – for himself, as an author, the challenge of creativity (do I have anything new to say about what has been said before me); with the critic, on the






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