Proceedings of the 1st International Conference on Language, Literature, Culture & Education 2014
ISBN 978-967-13140-0-5

Incommensurable Intertextuality in Appropriative Literature

Mohammad Safaei

University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus


The primary objective of this paper is to propose as well as to appraise a critical approach in the study of appropriative literature. To this end, I proceed with a review of Shakespeare appropriation and adaptation; this introductory section is ensued by discussions on a few crucial concepts, including intertextuality and incommensurability. To support my theoretical approach for the analysis of appropriative literature, I draw upon the works of a number of theorists and philosophers, including Julia Kristeva, Hans-George Gadamer, Joseph Raz, and Thomas S. Kuhn, on intertextuality, incommensurability, and the role of reader in the exploration of relations between texts. To elucidate the hermeneutic approach in this paper, I cite examples from the appropriations of Hamlet. The study of intertextuality in the appropriations or afterlives of Shakespeare is the investigation of transposition, re- envisioning or revisioning of his plays. This inquiry is often established upon the categorization of intertextual relations into congruities or transformations between a new work and its intertext or source. The present essay problematizes, as a point of departure, this basic methodological assumption and underscores the significance of incommensurable intertextuality in the study of appropriative literature. Incommensurable intertextuality, as investigated in regard to the appropriations of Hamlet, can be categorized into two: (1) those resulting from the reader’s suspended judgment regarding the signification of an intertextual relation; and (2) those which emerge as the consequence of a relation, theme, or phenomenon in an appropriation or adaptation which ontologically differs from its apparent equivalent in the intertext.


appropriation, intertextuality, incommensurability, ontology, Hamlet

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