A Postmodernist Intertextual Reading of Kalanithi’s When Breath Becomes Air


  • Ayesha Ashraf Assistant Professor, Department of English Language and Literature, University of Jhang Author




Postmodernism, Linda Hutcheon, Historiographic metafiction, When Breath Becomes Air, intertextuality


The present research paper attempts an intertextual reading of When Breath
becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi, an Indian-American neurosurgeon and a writer.
The term intertextuality was originally coined by Julia Kristeva and it refers to the
presence of one or more text/s within a text. It rejects the idea of the closure of
meaning and it demonstrates the dialogic state of a text. The current research
study is significant as it aims to provide a better understanding of the
interdisciplinary connection of fiction with that of any non-fiction text. It further
highlights that the use of allusions, reminiscences, aphorisms, and quotations, and
aphorisms in the novels that call for many interpretations. The current study has
applies the theoretical perspective of postmodern historiographic metafiction
proposed by Linda Hutcheon in her book Poetic’s of Postmodernism: History,
Theory, Fiction (2003). This research uses intertextuality as a tool to analyze the
selected text. Early on, the memoir has been studied with respect to limited
perspectives; however, the present study aims to analyze it in the light of
postmodernism that refers to a trend of plurality, uncertainty, metafiction,
fragmentation, identity crisis, pastiche and intertextuality. The research objective
explores the extent to which the writer interweaves fiction into historical texts to
generate a postmodern blend in a single narrative. This research is qualitative and
descriptive, while textual analysis has been used as a research method. This
research ends with the findings and recommendations for the future research.




How to Cite

Ayesha Ashraf. (2019). A Postmodernist Intertextual Reading of Kalanithi’s When Breath Becomes Air. University of Chitral Journal of Linguistics and Literature, 3(II), 71-84. https://doi.org/10.33195/zxnppy77

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