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After all, to the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.

(Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling)

In a moment of subtle intertextuality, the mentor figure of Dumbledore tells Harry Potter not to pity a
dying wizard. The wizard in question has been living for hundreds of years due to the “sorcerer’s stone,”
and is not afraid of death. J.K. Rowling is hinting back at the line in J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, who once
uttered, “to die would be an awfully big adventure.” There are themes in common between these two
fantasy stories of Harry Potter and Peter Pan, yet the reader does not need to pick up on the influence to
J.M. Barrie’s work to appreciate J.K. Rowling’s work. J.K. Rowling also borrowed from other sources, such
as from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy and from the horrors of real-life Nazi Germany, yet once
again the reader can appreciate the story without thinking about its influences.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, intertextuality means the complex interrelationship


between a text and other texts taken as basic to the creation or interpretation of the text.

According to Kristeva, when readers read a new text, they are always influenced by other texts, which
they have read earlier. When a writer borrows from other texts while writing his own, he attaches layers
of meanings to his work as well. When that work is read under the light of the others, it gives it a new
meaning and interpretation. According to Kristeva, any text is constructed as a mosaic of quotations; any
text is the absorption and transformation of another.

Types of Intertextuality

In a broader sense, there are two types of intertextuality: vertical and horizontal. Australian scholar John
Fiske made this distinction. Horizontal intertextuality means the same level references, i.e., books
referring to other books. On the other hand, vertical intertextuality means a book referring to films,
songs, etc. It can happen vice versa as well.

Obligatory

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Obligatory intertextuality is when the writer deliberately invokes a comparison or association between
two (or more) texts. Without this pre-understanding or success to 'grasp the link', the reader's
understanding of the text is regarded as inadequate.[13] Obligatory intertextuality relies on the reading
or understanding of a prior hypotext, before full comprehension of the hypertext can be achieved.[15]

Optional intertextuality has a less vital impact on the significance of the hypertext. It is a possible, but
not essential, intertextual relationship that if recognized, the connection will slightly shift the
understanding of the text.[13] Optional Intertextuality means it is possible to find a connection to
multiple texts of a single phrase, or no connection at all.[6] The intent of the writer when using optional
intertextuality, is to pay homage to the 'original' writers, or to reward those who have read the hypotext.
However, the reading of this hypotext is not necessary to the understanding of the hypertext.

Accidental intertextuality is when readers often connect a text with another text, cultural practice or a
personal experience, without there being any tangible anchorpoint within the original text.[13] The
writer has no intention of making an intertextual reference and it is completely upon the reader's own
prior knowledge that these connections are made.[18] Often when reading a book or viewing a film a
memory will be triggered in the viewers' mind. For example, when reading Herman Melville's 'Moby
Dick', a reader may use his or her prior experiences to make a connection between the size of the whale
and the size of the ship.

Intertextuality is an area of considerable ethical complexity".[30] As intertextuality, by definition,


involves the (sometimes) purposeful use of other's work without proper citation, it is often mistaken for
plagiarism. Plagiarism is the act of "using or closely imitating the language and thoughts of another
author without authorization-".[28] Whilst this does seem to include intertextuality, the intention and
purpose of using of another's work, is what allows intertextuality to be excluded from this definition.
When using intertextuality, it is usually a small excerpt of a hypotext that assists in the understanding of
the new hypertext's original themes, characters or contexts.[6] They use a part of another text and
change its meaning by placing it in a different context.[31] This means that they are using other's ideas
to create or enhance their own new ideas, not simply plagiarising them. Intertextuality is based on the
'creation of new ideas', whilst plagiarism is often found in projects based on research to confirm your
ideas.