Ihimaera’s The Matriarch and canonical intertextuality – Lawn
In her critical essay on Storytelling and Intertextuality in Lloyd Jones’ Mister Pip, Jennifer lawn also considers Witi Ihimaera’s The Matriarch in terms of canonical intertextuality. She writes: “…examples of canonical rewriting [comparable with Mister Pip] are surprisingly rare in our fiction, but those that do exist tend to work with, rather than against, the grain of their European inheritance. To take a somewhat marginal example, consider the quotations from Verdi’s operas La Forza del Destino and Nabuco in Witi Ihimaera’s novel The Matriarch. The allusions are tossed in for their connotative compression: as geographical marker, the operas acknowledge the matriarch’s sojourn in Venice; opera inspires the novel’s [-p.151] five-part structure and its tone of high-brow melodrama and Verdi’s association with the Italian Risorgimento signals Ihimaera’s preoccupations with the rise and fall of dynasties and nations. However, The Matriarch stands independent of Verdi’s operas; and while Verdi rounds out The Matriarch, it could not be said that the converse applies. A better candidate for canonical rewriting is the bone people, which reworks the iconic moment when Robinson Crusoe finds a footprint in the sand….” (pp.151-152)
Ref: (italics in original; emphases in blue bold, mine) Jennifer lawn (2009) ‘What the Dickens: Storytelling and Intertextuality in Lloyd Jones’ Mister Pip‘ pp.142-163 in Eds. Anna Jackson and Jane Stafford Floating Worlds: Essays on Contemporary New Zealand Fiction. Victoria University press: Wellington.
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