By definition, a palimpsest is “a written document, usually on vellum or parchment, that has been written upon several times, often with remnants of erased writing still visible.” Palimpsests (originally published in France in 1982), one of Gérard Genette’s most important works, examines the manifold relationships a text may have with prior texts. Genette describes the multiple ways a later text asks readers to read or remember an earlier one. In this regard, he treats the history and nature of parody, antinovels, pastiches, caricatures, commentary, allusion, imitations, and other textual relations.
Gérard Genette is one of the most original and influential literary critics of modern France. He is the major practitioner of narratological criticism, a pioneer in structuralism, and a much-admired literary historian. Such works as Narrative Discourse and Mimologics (Nebraska 1995) have established his international reputation as a literary theorist of the first order.
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