Composition No. 1

Creative Work
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Description (in English): 

"The reader is requested to shuffle these pages like a deck of cards; to cut, if he likes, with his left hand, as at a fortuneteller’s. The order the pages then assume will orient X’s fate.

For the time and order of events control a man’s life more than the nature of such events. Certainly there is a framework which history imposes: the presence of a man in the resistance, his transfer to the Army of Occupation in Germany, relate to a specific period. Similarly, the events that marked his childhood cannot be presented in the same way as those which he experienced as an adult.

Nor is it a matter of indifference to know if he met his mistress Dagmar before or after his marriage; if he took advantage of Helga at the time of her adolescence or her maturity; if the theft he has committed occurred under cover of the resistance or in less troubles times; if the automobile accident in which he has been hurt is unrelated to the theft — or the rape — or if it occurred during his getaway.

Whether the story ends well or badly depends on the concatenation of circumstances. A life if composed of many elements. But the number of possible compositions is infinite."

(Source: Description of the work printed inside box cover of 1963 Simon & Schuster English translation)

Technical notes: 

A box of loose sheets each printed with a page of the novel. Can be read in any order.

Critical writing that references this work:

Title Author Year
Autorschaft und digitale Literatur: Geschichte, Medienpraxis und Theoriebildung Heiko Zimmermann 2015
Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature Espen Aarseth 1997
Digital Literature: Theoretical and Aesthetic Reflections Luciana Gattass 2011
Electronic Literature Seen from a Distance: The Beginnings of a Field Jill Walker Rettberg 2012
Fuzzy Coherence: Making Sense of Continuity in Hypertext Narratives Jukka Tyrkkö 2011
Gaps, Maps and Perception: What Hypertext Readers (Don't) Do J. Yellowlees Douglas 1992
Language as Gameplay: toward a vocabulary for describing works of electronic literature Brian Kim Stefans 2012
Le récit littéraire interactif. Narrativité et interactivité Serge Bouchardon 2005
New narrative pleasures? A cognitive-phenomenological study of the experience of reading digital narrative fictions Anne Mangen 2006
Nonlinear Writing Astrid Ensslin 2014
Offene Texte und nicht-lineares Lesen. Hypertext und Textwissenschaft Kurt E. Fendt 1993
Písanie v interaktívnych médiách. Digitálna fikcia /Writing in the Interactive Media. Digital Fiction Zuzana Husárová 2009
Shuffling the Sjuzhet in Marc Saporta's Composition No. 1 Courtney A. Pfahl 2015
The Emergence of Electronic Literature Exhibition Catalogue Scott Rettberg, Jill Walker Rettberg 2013
The Materiality of the Intangible: Literary Metaphor in Multimodal Texts Lyle Skains 2013
Travels in Cybertextuality. The Challenge of Ergodic Literature and Ludology to Literary Theory Markku Eskelinen 2009
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Jill Walker Rettberg