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Rhyme: figurality, memory, intertextuality


Federico Di Santo


Seiten 131 - 152



Inscribed in a general theory of rhyme, the present article deals with the question of the relation between rhyme and intertextuality. As a premise, I briefly anticipate the main assumptions of my theory, with particular regard to what I have called the figural function of rhyme. Then, the close link between rhyme and memory is investigated, in light of both the coeval art of memory and modern psychology studies. Its mnemotechnical power is also the basis of its intertextual potential, in a shift from what is simply memorizable to what is memorable obtained through aestheic enhancement, mainly due to the so-called figural function. A brief comparison with Homeric formularity shows how verse-making devices may influence the text far beyond the mere scope of metrics, involving in particular literary memory phenomena. Finally, a selection of examples are provided to give an account of the many and varied types of intertextual relations the borrowing of rhymes may carry. It is a well-known fact that rhymes, when borrowed from previous texts, may become a privileged vehicle of intertextual allusion or reminiscence. Nonetheless, in the infrequent studies on rhyme, this issue has only recently begun to be addressed in a specific way and with not completely satisfactory results. What in particular is still lacking is a general theoretical framework concerning rhyme, with which we may connect the question of its intertextual potential. Indeed, this device has been much less studied than would be expected considering its historical relevance. Moreover a general theory regarding rhyme, going beyond the traditional typological distinctions proposed by metrical treatises, is still to be completed.

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