Berättelsens spel - berättarteknik och ergodicitet i Michael Joyce's afternoon, a story

Anna Gunder


In this article the narrative technique of Michael Joyce’s afternoon, a story is analyzed in order to describe narrative differences and similarities between traditional monosequential novels and multisequential hypernovels. Both traditional narratological methods and hypertext theory are used, and perspectives are combined from, on the one hand, narratologists Wayne C. Booth, Seymour Chatman, Jonathan Culler, E. M. Forster, Gérard Genette, A. J. Greimas, W. F. Brewer, Wolfgang Iser, Shlomith Rimmon Kenan, and on the other hand hypertext theorists Mark Bernstein, Jay Bolter, J. Yellowlees Douglas, Michael Joyce, George P. Landow, Janet H. Murray, Stuart Moulthrop, Gunnar Liestøl, Jill Walker, etc. Furthermore, the study aims to contribute to the development of a hypertext theory that allows for a description of hyperfiction on its own terms, without its being forced into a traditional model or reduced to merely a matter of digital hypertext technique. Central to the analysis is Espen J. Aarseth’s distinction between ergodic and non-ergodic literature, as well as some distinctions suggested by the present author. After a brief presentation of the hypertext program Storyspace and the technical aspects of afternoon, a story (i.e. navigation, linking etc.), the hypernovel is confronted with the Aristotelian definition of a narrative as well as with the general idea of what constitutes a narrative. The traditional dichotomy between story and discourse is found inadequate, and the concepts omnidiscourse, omnistory, real discourse and real story are introduced. Thereafter, a discussion on reading hyperfiction follows, in which the concept hyperliterary competence is vital. Having presented these concepts and perspectives, the narrative technique in the hypernovel afternoon, a story is analyzed at some length in four chapters: "Time", "The Narrator", "Space" and "Characters".

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