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Reading Lord of the Flies in the Light of Intertextuality

Author ZhangWenJuan
Tutor ZengQingQiang
School Central China Normal University
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords Lord of the Flies Intertextuality desert island tale Bible The Bacchantes
Type Master's thesis
Year 2004
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The works of William Golding, the Nobel Prize winner for literature, is noted for their incisive style, poetic narration and keen percipience into humanity. Lord of the Flies is Golding’s first novel and has been regarded as his best. When it was first appeared in 1954, it was welcomed by critics and book-reviewers as a literary sensation. Schools concerned with ’Golding study’ are consequently coming into being. Meanwhile, a large mass of critical opinion have aroused on this novel in the west. Comparatively, the study of the writer and his novels is no more than a small number of introductive essays hi China since the writer was introduced to China soon after Golding was granted Nobel Prize hi 1983. Even though there are some valuable theses in some periodicals, they focus either on the techniques or style of the work or on the interpretation of the novel from, the traditional notions of authorship and linear text. The text is still open to study.This thesis tries to read and interpret the Lord of the Flies in the light of intertextuality, a literary theory rooted in the post-modernist context. As a new literary theory, intertextual criticism, foregrounding the notions of relationality, interconnectedness and interdependence hi modern cultural life, suggests a transition from the traditional notions of ’text’ and the criterion of meaningfulness to a more comprehensive synchronic point-of-view rooted in the ’inter-text’ or cross-culture discourses. According to intertextual theory, ’a text is a tissue, a woven fabric.’ The text not only sets going a plurality of meanings but is also woven out of numerous discourses and spun from already existent text. Thus, the meaning of a text is not presupposed by the author but is open to the reader’s consciousness of its relation and reaction to its inter-texts. By detailed study in the way of intertextual criticism, the thesis states that the meaning of the text is produced through the text’s inter-action to its three inter-texts-the desert island tales, the Bible and the Greek tragedy The Bacchantes by the writer’s applying,consciously or unconsciously, techniques of parody, archetype and allusion. In this sense, intertextuality makes a breakthrough of the traditional literary criticism and significantly widens its horizon in reading and interpretation of the Lord of the Flies.The thesis sets off with a brief introduction of the life of William Golding andhis novel in question that enjoys the most popularity-Lord of the Flies. Despite amass of valuable critical assertions and theses on it, Lord of the Flies is still open tointerpretation in the light of Intertextuality. In chapter two, the origin anddevelopment of Intertextuality is outlined. Considering its complexity, the thesisconcludes the theory in two dimensions-Intertextuality as a new horizon in literarycriticism and Intertextuality as a practical application in text interpretation. Thethird part of the thesis is to read and interpret the fiction-Lord of the Flies in thelight of Intertextuality. In this chapter, a detailed study of the fiction, with consciousreferences to its intertexts-English desert island tale, Bible and Greek tragedy TheBacchantes, is carried on by analyzing the instances of phenomenon ofIntertextuality, implicitly or explicitly, in the fiction-parody, archetype andallusion in order to probe into the significance of the fiction from differentperspectives. The thesis thereby concludes that Lord of the Flies, with a logicstructure and coherent narration, can be regarded as one straddling that of ’readly’and ’writerly’ texts. Its interpretation is relatively stable, but it is not self-sufficient.Its significance depends both on its intertextual relation with its intertexts and onthe dialogue between its reader and author.

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