Journal of Romance Studies

Choosing is not an option (but a necessity)

Paradigmatic narrations and the impossibility of reading simultaneously

Journal of Romance Studies (2016), 16, (1), 7–21.

Abstract

This article deals with experimental novels that offer paradigmatic narrative material on a formal level. It focuses on the reader’s task to choose certain reading paths, and lists a typology of various formats which authors of contemporary literature have deployed (forking-paths-narrations, typo- and topographical layout, double-sided books, loose orders and serial writing). Mark Z. Danielewski’s novel Only Revolutions (2006) serves as an example for a many-sided book which asks the reader to engage in continuous operations of turning, whereas chapter 34 from Julio Cortázar’s novel Rayuela (1963) [Hopscotch] is a model for investigating intra- and intertextual interferences in analogy with the double-slit-experiment familiar from physics. Finally, the article proposes a rethinking of the term ‘experimental novel’ and suggests instead the term ‘actualistic literature’, coined by Susan Strehle in 1992, in order to acknowledge the structural outcome of these novels as a new aesthetic form of realism.

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Bordwell, David (2002) ‘Film futures’, SubStance 97 (31/1), 88–104. Film futures SubStance 88 104 Google Scholar

Bordwell, David (2014) ‘What-if movies: Forking paths in the drawing room’, David Bordell’s website on cinema, 23 November, www.davidbordwell.net/blog/2014/11/23/what-if-movies-forking-paths-in-the-drawing-room (accessed 30 October 2015). What-if movies: Forking paths in the drawing room Google Scholar

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Cortázar, Julio (1987) Hopscotch (New York: Pantheon). Hopscotch Google Scholar

Danielewski, Mark Z. (2000) House of Leaves (New York: Random House). House of Leaves Google Scholar

Danielewski, Mark Z. (2006) Only Revolutions (New York: Random House). Only Revolutions Google Scholar

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Hacker, Katharina (2009) Alix, Anton und die anderen (Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp). Alix, Anton und die anderen Google Scholar

Johnson, Brian Stanley (1969) The Unfortunates (London: Panther). The Unfortunates Google Scholar

Johnson, Brian Stanley (1971) House Mother Normal (London: Collins). House Mother Normal Google Scholar

Madsen, Svend Åge ([1972] 1994) Days with Diam – or: Life at Night (Norwich: Norvik). Days with Diam – or: Life at Night Google Scholar

McHale, Brian (1989) Postmodernist Fiction (London: Routledge). Postmodernist Fiction Google Scholar

Meifert-Menhard, Felicitas (2013) Playing the Text, Performing the Future: Future Narratives in Print and Digiture (Berlin: De Gruyter). Playing the Text, Performing the Future: Future Narratives in Print and Digiture Google Scholar

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Miall, David S. (2000) ‘On the necessity of empirical studies of literary reading’, Frame: Utrecht Journal of Literary Theory 14, 43–59. On the necessity of empirical studies of literary reading Frame: Utrecht Journal of Literary Theory 14 43 59 Google Scholar

Miall, David S. and Don Kuiken (1994) ‘Beyond text theory: Understanding literary responses’, Discourse Processes 17, 337–352. Beyond text theory: Understanding literary responses Discourse Processes 17 337 352 Google Scholar

Mitchell, David (2004) Cloud Atlas (London: Sceptre). Cloud Atlas Google Scholar

Morchiladze, Aka (2004) Santa Esperanza (Zürich: Pendo). Santa Esperanza Google Scholar

Nenik, Francis (2012) XO (Leipzig: ed.cetera). XO Google Scholar

Orr, Leonard (1991) Problems and Poetics of the Nonaristotelian Novel (Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press). Problems and Poetics of the Nonaristotelian Novel Google Scholar

Pfersmann, Andreas (2011) Séditions infrapaginales: Poétique historique de l’annotation littéraire (XVIIe-XXIe siècles) (Genf: Droz). Séditions infrapaginales: Poétique historique de l’annotation littéraire (XVIIe-XXIe siècles) Google Scholar

Resnais, Alain (dir.) (1993) Smoking/No Smoking (France). Smoking/No Smoking Google Scholar

Ryan, Marie-Laure (2006) Avatars of Story (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press). Avatars of Story Google Scholar

Ryman, Geoff (1998) 253 (London: Harper Collins). 253 Google Scholar

Saporta, Marc ([1962] 2011) Composition No. 1 (London: Visual Editions). Composition No. 1 Google Scholar

Schenk, Sabine (2013) Running and Clicking: Future Narrative in Film (Berlin: De Gruyter). Running and Clicking: Future Narrative in Film Google Scholar

Strehle, Susan (1992) Fiction in the Quantum Universe (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press). Fiction in the Quantum Universe Google Scholar

Zubarik, Sabine (2010) ‘Literature and quantum physics: A synopsis’, Tijdschrift voor Skandinavistiek 31, 9–42. Literature and quantum physics: A synopsis Tijdschrift voor Skandinavistiek 31 9 42 Google Scholar

Zubarik, Sabine (2014) Die Strategie(n) der Fußnote im gegenwärtigen Roman (Bielefeld: Aisthesis). Die Strategie(n) der Fußnote im gegenwärtigen Roman Google Scholar

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Zubarik, Sabine