Intertextuality in Robert Kroetsch's Seed Catalogue Essay example

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Intertextuality in Robert Kroetsch's Seed Catalogue

The late poet John Donne said, "No man is an island." Donne passed away in the earliest part of the seventeenth century, and yet he recognized an idea upon which much of modern philosophy and literary criticism is built. Donne said, in effect, that any individual man is nothing outside the body of mankind; Donne thereby supports a theory of cultural subjectivism.

In the field of literary criticism, particularly modern and postmodern criticism, the term intertextuality refers to the phenomenon of interconnectedness that exists specifically within literature. Just as Donne believes man to be nothing outside the context of his culture, so too does modern literary criticism
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Kristeva would likely say that there are no degrees of intertextuality but rather that intertextuality is a trait that all texts posses by virtue of their simply being texts. However, if texts could be placed on a continuum according to their degree of intertextuality, Robert Kroetsch's Seed Catalogue would surely find its home on the far end.

Seed Catalogue forces its readers to recognize the reality of intertextuality through its overt use of found text. This use of found text not only makes the reader aware of the catalogue's textual influences on Kroetsch's writing but also creates an atmosphere of hyperawareness of the social dialogue that Kroetsch believes creates all texts and unites the writer and reader.

Seed Catalogue opens not with a line of lyric but with an entry from a catalogue of seeds:
No. 176 -Copenhagen Market Cabbage: "This new introduction, strictly speaking, is in every respect a thoroughbred, a cabbage of highest pedigree, and is creating considerable flurry among professional gardeners all over the world." (Kroetsch 3)

Kroetsch continues the next section of the poem:

We took the storm windows / off the south side of the house and put them on the hotbed. Then it was spring. Or, no: then winter was ending. (Kroetsch 3)

This is a surprising and unorthodox way to

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