Reading a hypertext novel was probably one of the most confusing texts I have ever tried to read. A hypertext does not follow a set sequence of events; rather it tells a bit of a story here and gives a few details there. I chose to read Shelley Jackson’s Patchwork Girl, which is a hypertext that uses images, stories and details to tell part of a story. Patchwork Girl was inspired by The Patchwork Girl of Oz, by L. Frank Baum in 1913, and also by Frankenstein, written by Mary Shelley in 1818. There are many different aspects from this novel that relate to topics we have discussed in class. I have found that I can explain how this novel fits into both the narrative and interactive technologic realms. It also relates is some ways to the Choose Your Own Adventure books we have been discussing.
First thing’s first; explaining what a hypertext is. A hypertext contains links that can take you to an array of images, texts, music, or whatever else the author wishes to include. A hypertext is not like your typical novel. It incorporates links and connections that spiderweb throughout the novel. Just in the title page alone of Patchwork Girl,
The next task is to give a short background description of Patchwork Girl. An understanding of the story is essential in understanding anything else I may say. After reading through the hypertext a few times, I was still confused about the storyline, so I had to look up reviews. I found that Shelley Jackson actually incorporates parts of Frankenstein and The Patchwork Girl of Oz. In actuality, Patchwork Girl was supposed to be Frankenstein’s female companion. While being made, she was destroyed but Mary Shelley finished her in secrecy. In Baum’s novel, Patchwork Girl is made of cloth, buttons, pearls, etc. She is brought to life by a magician that sprinkles magical powders into her head that constitute as a brain.
As I was researching Patchwork Girl to get a better understanding of the novel, I came across a website in which someone made a PowerPoint presentation that explained the novel and also related hypertexts to many things we have talked about in class. They related hypertexts to interactive technology, old text-based games, like Zork, and Choose Your Own Adventure novels. Just as in a CYOA, the reader must be directly interacting with the story in a hypertext. You must choose what link you want to go to next. In some cases, you must choose how Patchwork Girl’s life will turn out.
As defined in class, a narrative is a representation of an event or a series of events. A narrative doesn’t necessarily have to tell a complete story. It could be in the form of an explanation, such as in the link to “a graveyard.” While navigating through the graveyard, you find mostly explanations and details about where Patchwork Girl’s body parts came from. The rest of the hypertext takes you through a series of events in which you learn about Patchwork Girl’s creator, their memories, and her trip to the
Technology plays a huge role in Patchwork Girl. Obviously, it is a hypertext. You need a computer just to be able to read the story. By using technology instead of just writing a typical novel, the reader can become more engaged in the process. In the circumstances of hypertexts, the reader is automatically forced to interact with the story. Although you may not actually be in the position of feeling like a character in the story, like in CYOA’s, you must still choose the link you want to go to next. You have to unfold the story yourself in whatever order seems fit. This ties in the interactive feature of the novel. No matter how much I dislike the game Zork, I can still find a way to tie it in here. Zork and Patchwork Girl are related in a sense in that I think they are both interactive narratives. They are very different concepts; Zork is a game, and Patchwork Girl is a hypertext novel. They are similar because, in both situations you have to choose what path you want to take next. In Zork, you type in a command to tell your character where to go next, and in Patchwork Girl you simply pick the link you want to go to next.
One specific part came to mind when reading this novel that immediately made me think of CYOA’s. Instead of choosing the adventure for yourself as if you are the character, you get to choose Patchwork Girl’s fate. When Patchwork Girl finally gets to the United States, the reader has the choice of either letting her have a “happily ever after” ending, or you can choose a more dismal ending in which she remains viewed as a monster. If you choose the monster fate for Patchwork Girl, she arrives in
I found it very interesting that I could connect this one novel to so many different things that we have discussed in class.
This is a very very rough draft. I saw something interesting online that related Patchwork Girl to “A Cyborg Manifesto.” Maybe after getting a better idea in class about “A Cyborg Manifesto” I could relate that in there too.
I also wanted to be able to add some images her Patchwork Girl herself, and some of the maps that they give so that everyone can have some sense of what I am talking about in here. I don’t know how to make links for that, so I’ll need a little help!