This is a Texty Tuesdays post, looking at different types of text from the printed word to blogs to things you scribble when you’re bored.
I, rather annoyingly for some people, refer to books as texts. This results in many confused conversations with people who think I’m referring to SMS texts.
I wonder if people had the same problem a few years ago, before the invention and development of the mobile phone?
A text, in its traditional sense, is a block of, well, text. A book, a play, a poem; all texts.
This makes it easier in academic circles for several reasons.
Did you know that Swift’s Gulliver’s travels is not a novel? Don’t ask me why, or what it is, I had difficulty understanding. Luckily, I have the word text with which to hide my ignorance.
It also comes in handy when trying to convey information. Instead of saying, “when reading a novel, play, poem, travel writing, diary, biography or auto-biography…” (the list could go on), we can simply say “when reading a text…”
But it’s much more than simply a term of reference.
The word text refers also to the way in which the writer manipulates language within the text.
How is it structured? Into books, chapters, sections?
Are there any texts within the text? By this I mean the momentous letters used in Jane Eyre and Romeo and Juliet, or the newspaper clippings used in Troubles.
The length of the sentences also comes into this. Henry James used long, convoluted sentences as a protest against the short, economic form of telegraphs which he though were destroying good writing style.
If it’s a play, stage directions come under the heading of text. Contrasting Shakespeare and Tennessee Williams is quite interesting, but mostly in terms of text rather than the on-stage play.
Certain authors are more concerned with idea of text than others – Ali Smith, Virginia Woolf, Gertrude Stein (and many other Modernist writers), for instance.
Blogs are yet another kind of text, and interesting for their own reasons. They’re very instant and unfiltered, and as you go through them, you get a sense of going backwards through time.
What do you think? How would you define “text”?