The Merry Wives of Windsor: Classical and Italian Intertexts


In lieu of an abstract, the first paragraph of the essay follows:

Current theory has distinguished between two opposite intertextual perspectives, synchronic and diachronic. Dismissing all notion of temporality and hence of sources, the synchronic perspective views all texts as existing simultaneously with each other. "An endless ars combinatoria takes place in what has been variously termed 'musée imaginaire' (Malraux), 'chambre d'échos' (Barthes), or 'Bibliothèque générale' (Grivel)." Contrarily, the diachronic perspective recognizes temporality and thus constructs well-ordered "archives" (Foucault) of intertextuality that meticulously chronicle "every code and register its continuities and discontinuities."1 The latter perspective opposes the former's endless Derridean deferral and dispersion, that kind of detheologized hermeticism in which all signifiers ultimately signify nothing. It enables criticism by affording more spacious perspectives- perspectives which stretch beyond the familiar landscapes and delusory comforts of verbal echo and the parallel passage to newer vistas composed of ancient and evolving topoi, conventions, and traditions.2

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