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What is intertextuality and why is it important?

Intertextuality is the relationship between different texts, specifically literary ones. It is the way that texts refer to and influence other texts. Julia Kristeva first used the term in her 1966 work Word, Dialogue and Novel. Intertextuality is an important stage in understanding a piece of literature, as it is necessary to see how other works have influenced the author and how different texts are employed in the piece to convey certain meanings. A good example of this is Evelyn Waugh's A Handful of Dust in which the title in itself references T. S. Eliot's The Wasteland and therefore an understanding of this poem is helpful in analysing the text. Furthermore a study of Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea is greatly enriched by a reading of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre

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