Authors, Readers, and Progression in Hypertext Narrative

Critical Writing
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Abstract (in English): 

George Landow, Espen J. Aarseth, Stuart Moulthrop and many
others have heralded the development of hypertext because they
believe it represents a revolution in textuality that will radically
alter how we read and write, including of course how we read and
write narrative. Print texts, we are reminded by the champions of
this new medium, are linear while hypertexts are nonlinear.
Consequently, the argument goes, print narratives encourage reading
in a fixed, straight-line sequence—one word after another, one
page after another—under the control of the author. Even postmodern
attempts to subvert the fixity of the print sequence cannot
overcome the stability of the printed page and the restrictions on
format imposed by the traditional book. Hypertext narratives, on
the other hand, are fluid by design; their sequence changes based
on readerly decisions. To put it another way, as those who advance
this argument sometimes do, readers approach hypertext narratives
from variable positions within the narrative, and so their progression
through the text—indeed, the progression of the text—is not
fixed but variable from reader to reader and from one reading
occasion to the next. If the medium is the message, as Marshall
McLuhan so famously pronounced, then it would follow that reading
hypertext narratives should be a significantly different experience
from reading print narratives. It is our hypothesis, however,
that the differences between hypertext and print narratives are neither
as absolute nor as stark as they first appear and that understanding
their similarities will enhance our understanding of each
individually. We will support this hypothesis by calling attention to
some frequently neglected features of narrative progression in both
print and hypertext narratives and by analyzing the progression of
one well-known hypertext, Stuart Moulthrop’s Victory Garden.

Source: article's introduction

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Patricia Tomaszek