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Textual Prostheses

Textual Prostheses “Prosthesis” belongs to a class of terms denoting arbitrary processes, whose intrusion into the realm of language should be viewed with suspicion. —Thomas Le Marchant Douse There are books in which the footnotes . . . are more interesting than the text. —George Santayana Nobody is going to believe that footnotes changed Writing and Reading. But they did. —Heriberto Yepez N SEUILS, GÉRARD GENETTE inventories those genres on the threshold of a literary work: dedications and inscriptions, epigraphs and titles, prefaces, notes, and all manner of bibliographic accouterments—from jacket copy to format. Genette argues that “a text without a paratext does not exist,” but he also mentions, in passing, that “paratexts without texts do exist, if only by accident” (34).1 Paratexts without a text—paratexts as texts, one might put it—have also been written quite intentionally, however, and they constitute a remarkable trend in contemporary writing. While drawn from diverse contexts and written in apparent obliviousness to their precedents, these works all stage a related set of tensions: between literal and metaphoric language, between the etymological history of words and the amnesia of their colloquial usage, between the form of a work and its ostensible themes. By attending to http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Comparative Literature Duke University Press

Textual Prostheses

Comparative Literature , Volume 57 (1) – Jan 1, 2005

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
Copyright 2005 by University of Oregon
ISSN
0010-4124
eISSN
1945-8517
DOI
10.1215/-57-1-1
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

“Prosthesis” belongs to a class of terms denoting arbitrary processes, whose intrusion into the realm of language should be viewed with suspicion. —Thomas Le Marchant Douse There are books in which the footnotes . . . are more interesting than the text. —George Santayana Nobody is going to believe that footnotes changed Writing and Reading. But they did. —Heriberto Yepez N SEUILS, GÉRARD GENETTE inventories those genres on the threshold of a literary work: dedications and inscriptions, epigraphs and titles, prefaces, notes, and all manner of bibliographic accouterments—from jacket copy to format. Genette argues that “a text without a paratext does not exist,” but he also mentions, in passing, that “paratexts without texts do exist, if only by accident” (34).1 Paratexts without a text—paratexts as texts, one might put it—have also been written quite intentionally, however, and they constitute a remarkable trend in contemporary writing. While drawn from diverse contexts and written in apparent obliviousness to their precedents, these works all stage a related set of tensions: between literal and metaphoric language, between the etymological history of words and the amnesia of their colloquial usage, between the form of a work and its ostensible themes. By attending to

Journal

Comparative LiteratureDuke University Press

Published: Jan 1, 2005

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