Handout for 2/15

February 15: Shelley (2). More on embedded narratives, this time with the Creature in focus—as narrator of his own story (CN3) and narrator of Safie’s (EN4). Introduction to intertextuality (quotation and allusion), to be continued next time. The handout also includes detailed explanations, with examples, of how to quote literary texts correctly in your own writing.

A theoretical aside: notice that these three topics are versions of the same thing. Embedding is also a kind of intertextuality and (normally) a kind of quotation too. When we are thinking primarily about how a narrative embeds another narrative with its own sjužet and fabula, we might focus on “framing” and narrative levels. But if we are thinking primarily about the language itself or the text layer, we can focus on quotation and intertextuality. The fundamental principle (3.3) is that any individual’s discourse is capable of indicating or including the discourse of another; this is especially true for narrators. But quoting, embedding, citing, and alluding are also always acts of framing, and we can always ask: In what light is the speaker presenting the cited material? Frankenstein should teach you (among many other things!) just how many possibilities there are. By the same token, in your own writing, you should reflect very deliberately on how you frame quoted material yourself.

Author: AG

Associate Professor, Department of English, Rutgers University, New Brunswick