A Pretext for Writing: Prologues, Epilogues, and the Notion of Paratext
15 Pages Posted: 6 Jun 2008
Date Written: June 12, 1998
Paratext is the liminal matter that forms the bridge between the context of a text and the text itself. It can be the prologue written by the author or the printer or the epilogue that neatly wraps everything up or throws us for a loop. It can be the table of contents, the index, or the chapter titles. It can be marginal notes written by the reader before us. It can even be the book review published in the local newspaper.
What happens when we examine the paratext of two very different kinds of works: (1) a teaching edition of Spanish-language short stories and (2) prologues written by William Caxton, early English printer of works such as Le Morte Dearthur and the Canterbury Tales?
The goal is both to explore the works of Caxton, especially, and also to remind readers of the importance of everything else surrounding what we generally consider the core text.
Keywords: textual studies, Caxton, paratext, critical theory, printing
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation