Issue #2 – Intertextuality – Abstracts

Laura I. H. Beattie

Freie Universität Berlin

Retelling Orpheus: Orpheus in the Renaissance

This paper examines the importance of the Orpheus myth during the English Renaissance. The Orpheus myth was one of the most common mythic intertexts of the period due to the fact that we could see the very story of Orpheus as being imbedded within the idea of the Renaissance itself. The main ambition of the Renaissance humanist was to bring the literature of the ancients back to life via the means of education. In other words, they attempted to bring the dead back to life and Orpheus serves as an embodiment of this ambition due to his ability to bring inanimate objects to life and in his journey to the underworld to rescue Eurydice. We find many different aspects of the Orpheus myth dealt with in Renaissance writing, for example Orpheus as poet, Orpheus as lover and the death of Orpheus being some of the key focal points. This paper, however, will focus specifically on the role of Orpheus as Poet as, due to the Renaissance love for art, rhetoric and eloquence, this seems to be the most popular dimension of the Orpheus myth at that time. We will see how Renaissance writers reinterpret the story of Orpheus, as originally told by Ovid and Virgil, in the Metamorphoses and the Georgics respectively, to show Orpheus as not only as being an archetypal poet but in fact the very first poet whose art is not only responsible for the civilisation of man, but also for the creation of a “Golden Age” in Renaissance England.

key words: Orpheus, Metamorphoses, Renaissance

Justyna Dąbrowska

University of Łódź

Subverting the Gaze, Seducing with the Bible: A Study of Oscar Wilde’s Salomé

The present article engages with the eponymous character of Oscar Wilde’s Salomé and focuses on her subversion of the patriarchal rules, and on her attempts at seducing the prophet Jokanaan. Wilde’s Salomé becomes “an erotic symbol of daring, transgression, and perversity” (Sloan 112). She wants to look at Jokanaan, as well as to be touched by him and openly states her great desire for him, using the imagery taken from the biblical Song of Songs to express her passion. Moreover, the Princess skillfully adopts and reverses the male gaze to manipulate others and go beyond the patriarchal constraints at Herod’s court. She becomes aware that the only way to reach her goals is to look actively and evade being a mere object of the male gaze. The article shows that the imagery employed in the eponymous character’s speeches contributes to her portrayal as a seductress, also accentuating her rebellion, and analyzes how the Princess transgresses the patriarchal constraints through appropriating the male gaze.

key words: Oscar Wilde, the Bible, Salomé, the male gaze


Katarzyna Lisowska

University of Wrocław

Women and Intertextuality: On the Example of Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad

The aim of the study is to consider feminist retellings of myths and legends. As an example, Margaret Atwood’s book The Penelopiad is analyzed. The interpretation is situated in a broader context of intertextual practices characteristic of the feminist vision of literature. I present the ideas which Atwood shares with authors engaged in women’s movement. Among these there is Atwood’s understanding of intertextuality (noticeable especially in The Penelopiad). Bibliographical basis of the study comprises books which are fundamental to feminist and gender criticism (e.g. Poetics of Gender, ed. by N. Miller, New York 1986; S. M. Gilbert, S. Gubar The Madwoman in the Attic. The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination, New Haven and London 1984). What is more, the study refers to the books which allow considering the notion of intertextuality (G. Allen, Intertextuality, London and New York 2010, J. Clayton. E. Rothstein (eds.), Influence and Intertextuality in Literary History, Wisconsin 1991) and connecting the interpretation with the problems crucial to contemporary literary studies (L. Hutcheon L. A Poetics of Postmodernism. History, Theory, Fiction, New York and London 1988, B. Johnson, A World of Difference, Baltimore and London 1989).

key words: Intertextuality, feminist literary criticism, arachnology, reinterpretation, humour


Aleksandra Mrówka

Jagiellonian University

The Comic Image of the Courtly Love Ideals in Le Morte D’Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory

The Arthurian legends have fascinated and inspired people for ages. Le Morte D’Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory is one of the best compilations of the stories about King Arthur and his peers. This romance deals with the enchanting world of knightly rituals and the ideals of the chivalric code. It is not a typical romance blindly glorifying the medieval world, though. Written in the time when these ideals are passing, the prose is dominated on the one hand, by melancholy and sentiment, but on the other, by irony and ambiguity. Malory seems to question the chivalric code through inconsistencies of his characters’ behaviour, and absurdity of some situations they are involved in. The paper will focus on the ambivalent and comic picture of the courtly love ideals in Malory’s prose. The main source of failure of some of the Arthurian knights in this aspect of knightly life is the clash between the real chivalric practice and the imagined ideals they pursue.

key words: courtly love, Malory, Arthur, knight, satire.

Martyna Paśnik

University of Łódź

Intertextual Adaptability of the Character of Sherlock Holmes from Literature to Film Production

This study explores the theme of intertextuality and adaptation between literature and film on the basis of Sherlock Holmes, the 19th/20th century character conceived by Arthur Conan Doyle. It shows how the character has been adapted from literature into the cinematic domain on the basis of three modern TV series, including Dr. House (Heel & Toe Films/Fox, 2004), Sherlock (Hartswood Films/BBC, 2010), and Elementary (Hill of Beans/CBS, 2012). Sherlock Holmes, who first appeared in 1887, was originally featured in four novels and 56 short stories. However, since that time Holmes has been adapted for over 240 movies exploiting enormous popularity of this character in a variety of settings. The paper analyzes prototypical, basic features of Sherlock Holmes underlying its intertextual adaptability. As discussed in this study, there are four prototypical features of Sherlock Holmes, i.e. (1) outstanding powers of perception combined with intellect; (2) unconventionality in social behaviour; (3) helpful partner; and (4) ability to use scientific achievements. The paper demonstrates that Sherlock Holmes conceptualized in such a basic manner can act as successfully in modern cinematic productions as it did in the late 19th century literature.

key words: Sherlock Holmes; Arthur Conan Doyle; detective story; science of deduction, unconventional methods of investigation

Magdalena Popłońska

University of Łódź

Whodunit to Irene Adler? From “the Woman” to “the Dominatrix” – on the Transformation of the Heroine in the Adapting Process and Her Representation in the Sherlock Miniseries

One of the peculiar characteristics of the Sherlock Holmes fandom is that it has always had a tendency to blow innuendos in Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories out of proportion. One might argue that such is the case of Irene Adler, the most recognisable female character from the Sherlock Holmes canon. Although we are not given much information on her in the original story and she hardly speaks in her own voice, for the community of readers she has become the most significant woman that Sherlock Holmes had ever encountered. Thus, the creators who adapted her for the screen also treated the heroine of “A Scandal in Bohemia” symbolically, allowing themselves to freely portray her presence in their versions of the story. For certain reasons, Irene Adler has been interpreted in pop-culture differently at various times: as the woman who beat Holmes with her wit, the detective’s romantic interest, his nemesis or a femme fatale figure. This tendency seems to be pushed to the extreme recently and the adaptations of the heroine in question gravitate towards a sexually confident, overtly self-aware, as well as dominant (both sexually and mentally) rival to Holmes.

The idea behind this paper is to investigate the transformation of Irene Adler’s character from the originally debatably scandalous adventuress to her modern portrayal as a dominatrix in the BBC miniseries, Sherlock. Hence, I will concentrate on this most recent take on the woman in the episode “A Scandal in Belgravia,” attempting to analyse in what ways the creators of the show go back to the roots and succeed in capturing the essence of Irene Adler’s figure, and conversely – in what measure does this adaptation epitomize the changes done to the character over the years of reinterpreting and diverting from its literary counterpart.

key words: Irene Adler, Sherlock Holmes, adaptation, appropriation, reinterpretation, transmedia fandom, fan fiction

Magdalena Zegarlińska

­University of Gdańsk

Intertextuality of C.S. Lewis’ The Last Battle

The Chronicles of Narnia has an established position in the canon of children’s literature. However, what on the surface is a fairy tale involving adventures and magic; with children, kings, talking beasts, and wood spirits as main protagonists; is, in fact, a set of stories deeply rooted in Christian and chivalric traditions, containing elements of beast fable and morality tale. The story, according to Madeline L’Engle, depending on the reader’s cultural knowledge and experience, may be understood on various levels, from the literal one of an adventure story for children, through the moral and allegorical levels, eventually reaching the anagogical level. While reading The Chronicles, one is able to notice various references to other written works, interwoven into the text, with the Bible, chivalric romances and beast fables being the most prominent sources of intertextual allusions. In The Last Battle Lewis attempts to answer John Donne’s question, “What if this present were the world’s last night?” (Holy Sonnet XIII) and presents a comprehensive image of Narnian apocalypse and life after death in Aslan’s country. The following paper will present the most noteworthy intertextual references in the final volume of The Narniad.

key words: Narnia, chronicles, intertextuality, apocalypse, Bible, chivalric, beast, fable, Arthur, Roland.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s