Making the Chain Longer and Stronger: An Intertextual Reading of Ignatius Mabasa’s Mapenzi
Literary texts are at times anchored in others that have come before them. This article thus notes that the relationship that exists between written works as well as oral works has been an abiding phenomenon since the emergence of the written word, whether it is Sumerian, Greek or Roman. This practice, also called intertextuality, is prevalent today in African literature. Informed by this tradition of intertextuality, the authors analyse Ignatius Mabasa’s novel, Mapenzi, and argue that the use of direct and indirect references to other creative works by the writer goes a long way in enhancing the text’s thematic and stylistic development. The article further observes that the intertextual references found in Mabasa’s novel evidence that he is a well-read artist who sees intersections between what he writes and what others before him have also written about. The article concludes by delineating the differences between plagiarism and creativity, in that an intertextual reading of Mapenzi reveals that as a creative work, besides connections to prior works, the novel has a life of its own, and has in fact carved a space for itself within Zimbabwean Shona literature. The article sums up such intertextual play as hochekoche (“interlinkages”), the creation of catenae between literary texts.