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The meaning of a poem is in another poem

Postmodernism awards high marks for non-originality. All literary works are made up of recycled bits and pieces of other works, so that, in the words of Harold Bloom, ‘the meaning of a poem is another poem.’ This doctrine of intertextuality is not to be confused with good old-fashioned literary influence. Such influences are mostly conscious and generally sporadic, whereas for Postmodernism it is impossible to open your mouth without quoting. As Roland Barthes and others have pointed out, the phrase ‘I love you’ is always a citation, indeed one of the most shopsoiled citations of all, even when it is sincerely meant. For the romantically inclined, this opens up an ominous gap between experience and expression; but if words are what we are made of – if I can know that what I am feeling is love only because I have language in the first place – the romantic view may need to be modified

Source Terry Eagleton London Review of Books

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