THE LITERARY WORK consists, exhaustively or essentially, of a text, that is to say (a very minimal definition) in a more or less lengthy sequence of verbal utterances more or less containing meaning. But this text rarely appears in its naked state, without the reinforcement and accompaniment of a certain number of productions, themselves verbal or not, like an author’s name, a title, a preface, illustrations. One does not always know if one should consider that they belong to the text or not, but in any case they surround and prolong it, precisely in order to present it, in the usual sense of this verb, but also in its strongest meaning: to make it present, to assure its presence in the world, its “reception” and its consumption, in the form, nowadays at least, of a book. This accompaniment, of varying size and style, continues what I once christened elsewhere, in conformity with the frequently ambiguous meaning of this prefix in French–consider, I say, adjectives like parafiscal or paramilitary–the paratext of the work. Thus the paratext is for us the means by which a text makes a book of itself and proposes itself as such to its readers, and more generally to the public.

(Genette 1991, 261)

Contributed by Wout. View changelog.