A Literary Structure and Radical Intertextuality. On the Semantic Complexity of John Gardner's ‘The King's Indian’
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"The King's Indian," the novella written by John Gardner, illustrates the structural and semantic complexity of much contemporary fiction resulting from radical intertextuality. Its rich intertextual sphere is the result of its extensive dialogic interplay with other literary works. One of the text's internal markers of significance is the “sentient trees subtext." A subtext is a signifying system in a narrative, which serves as a "hermeneutic signpost," pointing to the semantic organization of the text. The "sentient trees subtext" dispersed through the novella bears out Riffaterre's thesis that from the point of view of the logic of the narrative, a subtext is rather unimportant; it plays virtually no role in developing the plot. This freedom enables then the "sentient trees subtext" to assume the role of a "hermeneutic signpost," guiding the interpreter through the semantic maze of "The King's Indian," clarifying the resolution of the central motif of the quest, and finally bringing together its two compositional planes: the fictional world of Jonathan's tale, and the fictional reality of the narrative frame.
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