Toni morrison’s poetics of intertextuality or the supreme art of borrowing



aesthetic, africanism, historiography, intertextuality, poetics


In crafting her fiction, Morrison draws on various sources. She draws on world literature, the African and African American culture, and the national archives or the official historiography. These different elements which are constitutive of the novelistic discourse of Morrison represent her poetics of intertextuality. Through this intertextuality, Morrison questions the monopoly of meaning, the notion of originality and authenticity. Morrison’s poetics of intertextuality is transgressive not for the mere sake of non-conformism but for the sake of creativity. It is culturally productive since by borrowing from different authors and different cultures, Morrison creates a conducive artistic space of self-expression. Her poetics of intertextuality calls on the aesthetic acuity of the reader. For example, there is an aestheticization of trauma or violence, which is as strange as creating beauty out of some filthy dirt. The scars on the body parts of some characters are turned into a narrative device. Art is not innocent since there is always an underlying ideology in an artwork. Morrison’s poetics of intertextality is also a poetics of transgression since it violates the canonized aesthetic literary norms. In the light of the works of Franck J. D'Angelo, Kristeva, Bakhtin, Gerard Genette, and Roland Barthes on intertextuality, this paper endeavors to deconstruct these different borrowings that constitute Morrison’s poetics of intertextuality.


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How to Cite

Sy, O. (2019). Toni morrison’s poetics of intertextuality or the supreme art of borrowing. International Journal of Linguistics, Literature and Culture, 5(5), 36-54.



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