Fictional Dialogue: Speech and Conversation in the Modern and Postmodern Novel

By Bronwen Thomas | Go to book overview

8
Stuck in a Loop?
Dialogue in Hypertext Fiction

Hypertext Fiction and Interactivity: Issues and Debates

Hypertext fiction has provoked much debate since the appearance of the first examples in the late 1980s. Much of this debate has been focused on questions regarding the status of these fictions and their implications for the experience of writing and reading. Where close analysis of the form has been attempted (e.g., Jane Yellowlees Douglas’s [1994] readings of Michael Joyce’s afternoon, a story), it has mainly consisted of an attempt to “make sense” of the narrative, untangling the strands of the plot, and searching for some kind of closure. While this approach has offered valuable insights into the narrative structures of these fictions and into the mechanics of the interfaces they employ, few insights are provided into specific aspects of their style. Recently, an attempt has been made to close this gap by “second wave” hypertext theorists (Ensslin 2007; Bell 2010), but even here no attention has explicitly been paid to the role of dialogue in this kind of fiction.

Hypertext fiction has come a long way since the earliest examples, most notably in exploring the possibilities of creating a multimedia artifact in which sounds and images accompany the written text.1 However, this chapter will focus on the use of dialogue in two early hypertext fictions. Both Michael Joyce’s afternoon, a story (first published in 1987) and Jane Yellowlees Douglas’s I Have Said Nothing (1994) have achieved nearcanonical status, having been excerpted in print in the Norton anthology of postmodern American fiction (Geyh 1997). As is often the case with hypertext fictions, the writers, Jane Yellowlees Douglas and Michael Joyce, also happen to be two of the foremost theorists of the form, and the sense of mutual influence is unavoidable. The aims of this chapter are twofold: to explore the functions of dialogue in these fictions, and the extent to which the representations are innovative; and to examine whether we need to reassess our models for understanding the functions and forms

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Fictional Dialogue: Speech and Conversation in the Modern and Postmodern Novel
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I - Theory 13
  • 1 - Debates about Realism 15
  • 2 - The “Idea of Dialogue” 36
  • Part II - Narrative Cornerstones 55
  • 3 - Speech, Character, and Intention 57
  • 4 - Dialogue in Action 74
  • 5 - Framing 95
  • Part III - Genre and Medium 111
  • 6 - Dialogue and Genre 113
  • 7 - The Alibi of Interaction Dialogue and New Technologies 129
  • 8 - Stuck in a Loop? Dialogue in Hypertext Fiction 152
  • Conclusion 170
  • Appendix - Last Orders- An Analysis of a Chapter from Graham Swift’s Novel 175
  • Notes 183
  • Bibliography 187
  • Index 201
  • In the Frontiers of Narrative Series 213
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