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How does “Boating for Beginners” (Jeanette Winterson) use intertextuality to comment the world?

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  1. Introduction.
  2. Boating for Beginners as a parody of different literary genres.
    1. Parody and rewriting as subversive elements.
    2. Boating for Beginners: A 'comic book'.
    3. A mixture of literary genres.
  3. Boating for Beginners as a 'Satire Parody' of our modern society.
    1. The 'Satire Parody' is at work in Boating for Beginners.
    2. A critic of contemporary modern society.
    3. A male-dominated society.
  4. The deconstructed narrative as the mirror of the deconstructed world and self.
    1. The questioning of history and science.
    2. Importance of the metaphors of the Flood and God's creation.
    3. A post-atomic writing.
  5. Conclusion.
  6. Bibliography.

Boating for Beginners is a novel by Jeanette Winterson which belongs to post-modern literature and can be defined as a re-writing of the Bible. In her text, she uses a literary device called intertextuality in order to make comments on what she thinks is wrong in our modern society and for what reason. Intertextuality is one of the five transtextual relation types given by Genette. It is not something proper to post-modern literature; however, it is a constant feature in post-modern texts. According to Genette's definition, intertextuality is ?a relation of co presence between two texts or among several texts? and ?the actual presence of one text within another? (Graham Allen, Intertextuality, London, Routeledge, 2000, p.101), the presence of the other text can be presented either by a quotation, mimesis or allusion.

[...] As we can notice it, Jeanette Winterson makes numerous allusions to our contemporary modern world criticizing modern pains such as consumerism with the reference to ?pizza and ?supermarket? (Winterson, Jeanette, Boating for Beginners (1985), Minerva p 45) and materialism embodied by Noah who is a capitalist and can not afford to a charity? (Ibid., 115), he wants to make money no matter what it costs. Mechanization and profitability are part of the themes tackled, with the jobs of Noah and his three sons. [...]


[...] Not only does Jeanette Winterson changes the personality of these historical characters, she also changes the right order in which the biblical events occur; we learn that Noah is planning to re-write the biblical event of the Flood and make a film out of it. The setting recalls that of the Bible, we are in the state of Nineveh and Noah runs a boat company on the banks of the Tigris and the Euphrates (Winterson, Jeanette, Boating for Beginners (1985), Minerva p.12). [...]


[...] Bunny Mix thus uses poems written by men to write hers, the one entitled ?hyacinths? (Winterson, Jeanette, Boating for Beginners (1985), Minerva p. 119) strangely recall William Wordsworth's ?Daffodils? (1804). Her poem is ridiculous, dealings with bees, and totally missing the romantic aim achieved by the male poet. Gloria is also the victim of her desire to build her according to the famous literary critic, Northrop Frye. This man's world is very Cartesian, that is to say, dominated by reason, feelings are conveyed mostly by the characters of Gloria and Marlene, that is to say female characters. [...]

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