David Kovacs, "Paralipomena Euripidea,"
48.5 (November, 1995) 565-570 (at 570):
must be said about the word "intertextual", which has crept into
classical scholarship but which may do more harm than good. The first half of the
compound suggests mutuality
and a completely symmetrical relationship, as with
"international" or "interpersonal": if Nation A can commit an act of war against
Nation B, so can Nation B against Nation A, if Person A can extend
to Person B, Person B can reciprocate. This is possible because both nations and
are ongoing agents who share the same
over time. Works of
literature, by contrast, are not ongoing agents, and they take a fixed form at the
moment when their creation is finished. They are arranged in time in such a way
that later works may allude to earlier ones but earlier works may not allude to later
ones except under quite unusual circumstances. Thus the Aeneid may allude to the
De Rerum Natura, but the De Rerum Natura may not allude to the Aeneid. Only if
the author knows what he intends to write or what one of his acquaintances
intends to write can there be an allusion of sorts, though since readers cannot
understand it until the other work appears, it would be better to speak of a
forecast. This, for obvious reasons, is far rarer, and any language that suggests
that reference in one direction is pretty much on the same footing with reference
in the other is bound to induce critical confusion.
I've always hated the word.