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Catch-22in the Light of Intertextuality

Author GuoNa
Tutor LiSi
School Wuhan University of Technology
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords Catch-22 Joseph Heller Intertextuality Slaughterhouse Five
CLC I712.074
Type Master's thesis
Year 2012
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Intertextuality is an important concept that is put forward by the French poststructuralist critic Julia Kristeva, who has pointed out in semiotics:"Any text is constructed as a mosaic of quotations; any text is the absorption and transformation of another."(Kristeva1980:66-80)In other words, any text is intertextual and no text exists in isolation. Weaving between texts constitutes a vast network on the basis of language and the text itself makes a connection with other texts. The theory of intertextuality differs from traditional literature research, shakes authors’sole authority during the text reading and invalidates the traditional concept of a self-sufficient and self-contained text.Catch-22is the masterpiece of American black humor literature and is known as the classic work of American literature. The novel written after World War II reflects contemporary American social problems and caters to the aspiration of American citizens. It has been deemed the counterculture bible of the1960’s. Catch-22reflects the cruelty of war and the miserable destiny of characters in the novel, and also demonstrates the author’s hatred for war. The author employs postmodernism artistic approaches such as black humor, the language play to vividly reveal absurd social reality and the painful circumstance that men exist under the shadow of catch-22. Catch-22is just like a huge death net and makes men in the war be caught in it, which leads to the morbid state of men’s spirit and men’s tremendous horror towards death.All literature is intertextual, different texts will have different interpretations. From a new perspective, the thesis will try to find the implicit text that is hidden in Catch-22as well as the relationship between Catch-22and other texts by the theory of intertextuality and make a thorough research.

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