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A Reflection on the Last Compilation of Bahman Namvar Motlaq

"An Introduction to Iranian Intertextuality"

4 May 2012 - 11:39

"An Introduction to Intertextuality" is the last published book of Bahman Namvar Motlaq, a semiotician and art critic. The author's basic idea in this book is to express theories and then giving examples from native art. So that, in this book the author has tried to nationalize the theories of intertextuality.

IBNA: Today, intertextuality is one of the most widely used theories in the field of literary and art criticism. The founders of this field are "Julia Kristeva" and "Roland Barthes ". Unfortunately, despite the existence of too much talk about this field, there are a few references in this regards the most important of which is Graham Allen's Intertextuality, translated by Payam Yazadanjoo. It is however a secondary source, since it has been compiled by a non- French person.

By taking a look at books, papers and writings of Namvar Motlaq during these few years shows that most of his focus has been on this area. And again taking a look at the book's reference pages indicates that all the author's references has been merely to the French sources (i.e., the primary sources) and in the reviewing meeting of the book, he noted himself that all the time he has been authoring the book, he has constantly been in contact with Kristeva and two other thinkers in this field called: " Laurent Gene " and " Michael Riffaterre, the French-American critic, and semiotician.

The book has two parts. The first section introduces the theories of intertextuality as well as the related theorists. The second part entitled: "Intertextuality and InterArt" is dedicated to applied studies of intertextuality in culture, art and Iranian society.

The first section of the first chapter of this book is entitled" Pre-Intertextuality" and its introduction under the name of "no outset exists" refers to a significant basic point, that is "every knowledge, idea, or theory enjoys an ancient background, thus cannot determine any outset to it. For instance, inserting the adventure of prophets like Jesus Christ or Moses in to Quran can be considered as a sort of intertextuality; moreover, some of theoreticians bring the advent of Postmodernism back to the ancient times and ancient Greece as well. 

This section of the book is indeed of the author's own innovations in this area and so far no thinker in the world has been concerned with such a term as "Pre-Intertextuality". The basic principle of Intertextuality is formed on some sort of pre-texts; so, the author seeks to find the pre-texts of "intertextuality" itself. In this section, the ideas of "Mikhail Bakhtin- the Russian philosopher, literary theorist and critic, semiotician and scholar- and also one of the most important thinkers in the field of Structuralism, are reviewed and analyzed thoroughly.

It is worth to say that the easiest and the most complete expression of Bakhtin's ideas can be read in this part of the book. Other sources are neither as easy nor as comprehensive as the present book- or just as in the book "Glossary of Critical Thinking", [originally entitled as: A Dictionary of Cultural and Critical Theory] suffer from ambiguous and hefty language.

The first section of this book also deals with the contexts and how of shaping and developing the theory of intertextuality and then the views of scholars like Kristeva, Roland Barthes and Riffaterre are discussed explaining the impact of these ideas on the concept of intertextuality.

The second section is in fact the first academic article on the subject of scientific investigation of Iranian art works with approach to Intertextuality. In the introduction to this section, the author presents the intertextual relationships in art as well as cultural relation in intertextuality, giving examples of its variety.

Chapter I, section II devoted in reading Behistun Inscription, the ancient inscription of Darius era and analyzes the intertextual relations involved in production and reading of this inscription. The second chapter deals with intertextual study of the painting entitled: "This too shall pass" worked by the internationally prominent contemporary Iranian artist, Parviz Kalantari. Also in this part the theory of "Reading Intertextuality" first proposed by Roland Barthes, has been subjected to deep analysis.

The important point to be received by the audience based on what are presented in section II is indeed indigenous studies in the field of intertextuality. In case of being put in the right direction, these studies will resulted in shaping the concept of "Iranian Intertextuality", an important step towards reviewing and reforming one of the most important theories of the Humanities in Iran.

Western theories cannot be used so crudely in study of culture, art and Persian literature. An Iranian researcher should represent a new reading of these theories according to the cultural background; a crucial task which has been successfully done by Namvar Motlaq in this book. It is considered as the first typical research book in this area, and thus it seems that other concepts such as Transtextuality and etc. should be sought in his next compilations. 

"An Introduction to Intertextuality" has been launched into the book stores by Sokhan publication, in 439 Page and at the price of 75000R.

Namvar Motlaq, Ph.D. in comparative literature from the University of Clermont - Ferrand, France, is now the faculty member of Shahid Beheshti University and the research vice president of the Artists House of Tehran. He is also one of the founders and the original members of Tehran Semiotics Circle.

Books previously written by Namvar Motlaq include: "Developmental Review in Art and Literature"; "Comparative Sciences", "Shahnameh, the myth of Intersemiotic Text" and "Shahnameh, the myth of Identity Maker Text". He has also authored several books in French which have been published in that country.