As one of the main concerns of this book is the extraction of meaning from the Mary Poppins series in the light of its intertextual links, it is necessary to briefly examine ‘intertextuality’ and my usage of the term.
Intertextuality has become quite a broad and fuzzy literary term, especially in the light of Post-Modernism. Graham Allen, however, offers a comprehensive clarification of the term. Firstly, Allen argues that literature contains meaning, with readers extracting meaning during the processes of reading and interpreting (cf. Allen 1). These notions may seem well known to the literary scholar, but it is perhaps important to dwell on them briefly in order to link the meaning of the P.L. Travers’s Mary Poppins series with the notions of intertextuality.
As texts are systems and constructed by codes, the decoding of these texts only works as texts are built on traditions that have been established by previous texts: literary and non-literary. Thus, we come to speak of intertextuality, as any text exhibits a network of cultural modes and relations. In order to establish meaning, then, the reader moves within an immense variety of texts (cf. Allen 1). Hence, literary works must then be understood as networks of texts, since they are built of texts, words and phrases that exhibit multiple meanings at all times (Ibid. 12).
Furthermore, Roland Barthes provides us with the following definition of text. He claims that text is “a multidimensional space in which...
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