What is paratext?

What Does paratext Mean

Although the notion of paratext is not part of the dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy (RAE) , its use is frequent in the field of linguistics . It is known as paratext to those messages, postulates or expressions that complement the main content of a text. Its purpose is to provide more information about the work in question and organize its structure.

The title and subtitles of a book are considered as paratexts, as are a prologue , dedications , an index , notes in the margin, and other statements. These paratexts are created by the author himself.
The content that appears on the spine of a book is a paratext.
Content written by the author or publisher
Suppose an author writes a 120-page novel about a boy who wanted to visit the Moon . In all these pages he develops his story : apart, it includes paratexts such as the title ( "Dreams that escape the world" ), subtitles ( "The birth of an illusion" , "Preparations for the flight" ) and a dedication ( "To my wife Fatima and my children Romeo and Luis ” ).

The publisher, on the other hand, can also include paratexts, independently of those included by the author himself. This is how texts appear on flaps ( "John Kuclick, born March 18, 1940, is an American author who began his literary career when he was 18 years old ..." ), the spine ( "Dreams that escape the world, by John Kuclick ” ) And in other sectors of the book.
Paratext in research and technical works
When the work in question is an investigation , it is usual for the author to mention the sources that he consulted in the bibliography . It is also likely that if the book is technical in nature, a glossary will be provided . Both sections (bibliography and glossary) are part of the paratextual elements.
Paratext can appear in different parts of a printed work.
The paratext opens the doors to the analysis and criticism of the discourse, as well as to its extension or synthesis through notes and prologues that complement the main message. On the other hand, its presence compensates in some way for the absence of the receiver at the time of writing, which means that an exchange of ideas cannot take place during reading.

One of the functions of paratext is to guide the reader to ensure effective reading. In texts of a technical nature, for example, it is normal to indicate through small annotations which section should be consulted to deepen more about a certain topic, or to include images that help to understand the content.
Elements that compose it
Within the paratext it is possible to recognize factual, iconic and material elements; some authors consider that the last two belong to the same class, which they call simply iconic paratext , of which the graphics and illustrations are part , which are clearly differentiated from the verbal components of the factual paratext. Other classifications include the concepts of peritext (it surrounds the main text but is in the book) and epitext (it is outside the bounds of the book).
The structure of the peritext, whose definition coincides with the general idea of ​​the paratext itself, contains information that can be written by the author himself or by his editor ( author or editorial peritext , respectively). Typically, the author deals with the paratext that seeks to improve understanding of the text, while the editor generates the content related to the advertising aspects of the book.
The epitext is a type of paratext that can be used to promote a book, as occurs with the material disseminated by publishers to anticipate a launch: reports, presentations, reviews in various media, posters and catalogs. Although the function of the epitext is different from that of a graphic or a note within a book, it is still content related to it, since it has the objective of capturing the public's attention and directing it to its pages.

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