Anneli Mihkelev (Tallinn University)

Hypertextuality and Intertextuality in Digital Age: Hypertextual Poems as The Challenge and Game of The Reader’s Competence

Concerning digital age the terms intertextuality, transtextuality and hyper textuality are very significant. Gerard Ginette used all these concepts in his book “Palimpsests”.  According to Graham Allen, “Digitalized computing systems such as the World Wide Web, electronic books and hypertexts present a form of intertextuality which seems to many to have finally made manifests the theoretical arguments we have analysed in this study.[- – -] Intertextual theory . . . has much to offer and perhaps to teach the new information technologies and their users “ (G. Allen, “Intertextuality”, 2000:  201-208) 

The term ‘intertextuality’ was coined by Julia Kristeva in the second half of the 20th century. At the same time there are also various definitions of intertextuality and some of them overlap, so the resultant confusion necessitates defining the term again every time it is used. To resolve the confusion created by Kristeva’s term, the border term ‘intersemioticity ‘substitutes for the term ‘intertextuality’. The narrower term ‘intertextuality’ would refer only to relationships between “texts” in other sign systems. The relationships and interactions between the latter two can be treated as intersemiotic relationships. It is the literary dialogue in Mikhail Bakhtin’s sense which connects the author, the text and the reader.  All three components exist also in the different levels of the texts: the surface and the deep structure. Dialogue is the reason why intertextuality is a dynamic phenomenon. The reference signal or marker exists on the surface level of the text. At the same time intertextuality or intersemioticity may connect different sign sytems: verbal, material and visual. And those markers on the surface level of the text function as deictic in the text: the markers connect the alluding text with the referent-text and the context(s). Markers can be explicit, implicit, marked or unmarked in the texts, and they can be also exist in quotations, and onomastic, toponymical and titular allusions as a signal which starts the allusion at the macro level, all the signs and association which arise in the reader’s mind.

In digital literature there can be hypertextual links which connect the referent-text and the context(s) or hypertextual links can connect also different sign systems, e.g. architectural objects, pictures, films, even music etc. In other words, the hypertextual links in the digital literary text can connect cultural heritage. It is also significant that the author has different intentions when s/he use the referent texts, and which kind of referent-texts has s/he used. The main idea concerning the author’s functions in the text is that the author is definitely not dead, as some interpretations of Roland Barthes’ famous essay “The Death of the Author” (1968) would seem to indicate, but the author’s intentions live in his/her text. Consequently it is possible that the author manipulates the reader’s memory or the collective memory of the nation, as we can see in different periods in Estonian literature.  At the same time realizations of the author’s intentions depend on the reader’s competence and how s/he is able to understand the author’s intentions. The most important function of the reader is recognition. That is the reason why the reader is the crucial component in the function of literary text. The reader constitutes meaning according to the text created by the author.

The paper analyses different hypertextual literary works from Estonian literature from 1990s. Poetry by Hasso Krull and Aare Pilv demonstrates how hypertextual links connect the older literary texts and old mythical texts in one poem and how the reader has the possibility to interpret the poem and cultural heritage.