Shuffling the Sjuzhet in Marc Saporta's Composition No. 1

Critical Writing
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Abstract (in English): 

Marc Saporta's Composition No. 1 is an unbound novel that can be read in any order. This essay explores how the novel's indeterminate nature affects the sjuzhet and fabula. It finds that the fabula works in an essentially normal way, but priority is shifted from the reader-determined sjuzhet to the (perceived) author-determined fabula, which shows that readers privilege the author's intention over their own activity and order.

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[W]hile the reader determines the order of the pages and thus encounters a nonlinear narrative, she or he does not control the fabula, or chronological story. Instead, like the reader of any narrative text, the reader of Composition No. 1 will more than likely attempt to reconstruct the order of events as Saporta intended them, and with few exceptions, the narrative clues scattered throughout Composition No. 1 allow for this reconstruction.

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Jill Walker Rettberg