According to Gérard Genette, the paratext is what is beyond a text, e.g.: the cover, the title, the interviews about a novel...

Paratext can be devided into two categories: spatial and temporal. The spatial paratexts are peritext and epitext, while the temporal ones are divided into three categories: original, later and prior.

I did not understand the two categories "spatial" and "temporal". Can someone help me understand them?

In those examples can you help me find out which paratext is temporal and which one is spatial? I still have a hard time making a difference.

  1. The novel’s title
  2. The author’s foreword written for the second edition of the novel
  3. Film adaptation of the novel
  4. The film’s trailer
  • 1
    it is not important which novels I am referring to. I added more explanation to my question. It is about knowing the nature of the paratext. for example : an interview in which an author presents his book is considered an epitext which means that it is a spatial paratext. the title of a novel is considered a peritext , which means that it is a spatial paratext , but I couldnt understand the temporal paratext. Maybe my second example could be considered temporal as it is written ´´for the second edition´´ Not original for sure but prior or later Jul 10, 2019 at 19:44
  • Here are the categories of a paratext aws-cf.imdoc.fr/prod/photos/0/7/3/9639073/28027576/… Jul 10, 2019 at 19:52

1 Answer 1


The diagram from Machiavelli's comment is perhaps a bit misleading. It gives the impression that there are two main categories of paratext (each with further subdivisions), namely spatial and temporal, whereas spatial and temporal are two characteristics of paratext.

When you look at paratext from a spatial point of view, you can subdivide it into peritext and epitext. The distinction between peritext and epitext for a specific text is not fixed forever. For example, a letter by or an interview with a book's author that is published elsewhere is epitext because it is outside the book's boundaries. However, if a later edition of the book reprints that letter or interview in, for example, an afterword or an annex, then that text becomes peritext.

When you look at paratext from a temporal point of view, you can locate it in time compared to a specific book: texts published before the publication of a specific text or book, the original edition itself, and texts published later. In "Introduction to the Paratext" (New Literary History, 1991), Genette gives the following example of "anterior paratexts" (italics from the original):

certain elements of the paratext appeared (publicly) at an earlier date: this is the case for prospectuses, advertisements that the book is "forthcoming," or again of elements linked to a prepublication in a newspaper or review, which sometimes disappear in the volume, like the famous Homeric titles of the chapters of Ulysses whose official existence will have been, if I may put it in this way, entirely prenatal-and thus, anterior paratexts.

Other texts appear after the original edition of a book. As Genette explains,

others appear later than the text, for example thanks to a second edition, like the preface to Thérèse Raquin (a four months' interval), or to a much later re-edition, like that of the Essai sur les revolutions (twenty-nine years).

Genette considers the preface to Thérèse Raquin an example of "subsequent paratext", while the the re-edition that appeared 29 years later as "belated paratext". Paratexts that appear after the original edition can also be subdivided depending on whether they were published during the author's lifetime ("anthumous paratext") or after the author's death ("posthumous paratext").

With this in mind, we can look at the examples provided in the question:

  1. The novel’s title: a novel's title is not published before or after the novel, so only the spatial characteristic needs to be considered here. Since it is part of the book, it is peritext.
  2. The author’s foreword written for the second edition of the novel: from a spatial point of view, this is peritext (for the second edition); from a temporal point of view, this is later paratext (subsequent paratext, assuming that the second edition was published not too long after the first edition).
  3. Film adaptation of the novel: from a spatial point of view, this is epitext, since the film is not part of the novel (unless the DVD is included with the book, in which case it is or becomes peritext); from a temporal point of view it is later paratext.
  4. The film’s trailer: in relation to the film itself, this is epitext (spatially) and anterior paratext ("published" or released before the film itself).

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