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Experimental literature

Parent categories: experimental - literature

Related: antinovel - complexity - concrete poetry - cut-up technique - digressions in literature - faction - Lettrism - metafiction - modernist literature - Oulipo - nouveau roman - postmodern literature - stream of consciousness

Titles: Tristram Shandy (1760-1770) - Laurence Sterne - Jacques the Fatalist and His Master (1796) - Denis Diderot

In search of postmodern novels

Anti-Story : An Anthology of Experimental Fiction (1971) - Philip Stevick [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Experimental novel

An experimental novel is a novel that places great emphasis on innovations regarding style and technique. The first text generally cited in this category is Laurence Sterne's The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Experimental novel [Jun 2006]

Alan Gullette website

Via Alan Gullette http://alangullette.com/lit/absurd/ who I've mentioned before here. and his literary entry page features supernatural, surreal, absurd, et al.

Anti-Story : An Anthology of Experimental Fiction (1971) - Philip Stevick

See also: anti- - story - experimental - literature

The Experimental Novel (1880) - Emile Zola

As the founder and most celebrated member of the naturalist movement, Zola published several treatises to explain his theories on art, including Le Roman expérimental (1880; The Experimental Novel). --http://www.fak09.uni-muenchen.de/Kunstgeschichte/projekte/zola/zolabiographie.html [Jun 2006]

"This is what constitutes the experimental novel: to possess a knowledge of the mechanism of the phenomena inherent in man, to show the machinery of his intellectual and sensory manifestations, under the influences of heredity and environment, such as physiology shall give them to us, and then finally to exhibit man living in social conditions produced by himself, which he modifies daily, and in the heart of which he himself experiences a continual transformation" (20-21). --Extracts from Émile Zola, "The Experimental Novel." Translated from the French by Belle M. Sherman. New York: Haskell House, 1964. via http://coursesa.matrix.msu.edu/~hst337/Zola-ExpNovel.htm [Jun 2006]

See also: 1880 - Emile Zola - realist literature - naturalism - experimental - novel

Encarta definition

An experimental novel can be defined as a work in which the author places great importance on innovations in style and technique. Experimental novels can be challenging to read because they represent reality in unusual ways, but they also demonstrate one of the novel’s greatest strengths—its ability to encompass an almost endless variety of approaches. Czech writer Milan Kundera asserted this idea when he argued that the novel is a constant questioning of forms.

One of the earliest examples of the novel of experimentation is Tristram Shandy (1759-1767) by English writer Laurence Sterne. --http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761560384_8/Novel.html [Jun 2006]

See also: style - technique - experimental - novel

Ergodic Literature

Ergodic literature is literature that requires special effort to comprehend or read, perhaps due to a "non linear" structure. The term is derived from the Greek words ergon, meaning "work" and hodos, meaning "path". Ergodic literature demands an active role of the reader, such that they become "users" who may need to perform complex semiotic operations to construct the reading.

For example, ergodic literature may require following a very unconventional page layout in order to understand a novel, or in the case of ebooks, readers may need to constantly use hyperlinks to follow the narrative, or use menus to continue reading in a new location. By comparison, conventional "nonergodic" literature simply requires the reader to turn pages and follow the text in sequential order.

The term was coined by Espen Aarseth in his book Cybertext--Perspectives on Ergodic Literature. Although it may be supposed that this kind of literature was born in the second half of the 20th century, at the same time as the first appearance of computers, critics of the ergodic literature have often mentioned the I Ching as the first example of genre. The text dates from the time of the Western Zhou Dynasty (1122-770 B.C.), and comprises sixty-four hexagram symbols which are binary combinations of six whole or broken changing lines (which also give the text its other name, the "Book of Changes"). A hexagram has a main text and six others, smaller than the main text, with one for each line. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ergodic_literature [Jul 2006]

Cybertext--Perspectives on Ergodic Literature (1997) - Espen Aarseth [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Other examples

--http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ergodic_literature [Jul 2006]

See also: 1997 - interactive ficion - nonlinearity - experimental novel

Hopscotch (1963) - Julio Cortázar

Hopscotch (1963) - Julio Cortázar
[FR] [DE] [UK]

Rayuela (1963), translated into English as Hopscotch, is the most famous novel by the Argentine writer Julio Cortázar.

Hopscotch is a dazzling literary experiment that ranks among the most important novels written in Spanish in the 20th century. It has been highly praised by other Latin American writers including Gabriel García Márquez, Mario Vargas Llosa or José Lezama Lima. The novel has an open-ended structure that invites the reader to choose between a linear reading or a non-linear one that interpolates additional chapters. Cortázar's employment of interior monologue, punning, slang, and his use of different languages is reminiscent of Modernist writers like Joyce, although his main influences were Surrealism and the French New Novel, as well as the "riffing" aesthetic of jazz. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rayuela [Oct 2006]

Biography --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julio Cortázar [Oct 2006]

List of superlatives:
"The most powerful encyclopedia of emotions and visions to emerge from the postwar generation of international writers." -- New Republic

"A work of the most exhilarating talent and interest." -- Elizabeth Hardwick

"Cortazar's masterpiece...the first great novel of Spanish America."-- Times Literary Supplement

"The most powerful encyclopedia of emotions and visions to emerge from the postwar generation of international writers." -- New Republic

Dictionary of the Khazars (1984) - Milorad Pavi?

Dictionary of the Khazars (1984) - Milorad Pavi?
[FR] [DE] [UK]

Dictionary of the Khazars: A Lexicon Novel is the first novel by Serbian writer Milorad Pavich (Milorad Pavi?), published in 1984.

Originally written in Serbian, the novel has been translated into many languages, including English.

There is no easily discerned plot in the conventional sense, but the central question of the book (the mass religious conversion of the Khazar people) is based on an historical event generally dated to the last decades of the 8th century or the early 9th century when the Khazar royalty and nobility converted to Judaism, and part of the general population followed.

However, from this starting point, Pavi? often veers into his own style of playful, somewhat Borgesian fantasy: most of the characters and events described in the novel are entirely fictional, as is the culture ascribed to the Khazars in the book, which bears little resemblance to any literary or archeological evidence. The novel might be a sort of metafictional false document, as the people and events in the novel are presented as factual.

The novel takes the form of three cross-referenced mini-encyclopedias, each compiled from the sources of one of the Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Islam, and Judaism). Due to its format as a dictionary, the novel may be read in any number of ways, rather than just front to back. This challenges readers to shun passive reading and become active participants in the novel, as they piece together the story from fragmented, and often conflicting, accounts. As the author writes (in his introduction to the work, translated to English)

"No chronology will be observed here, nor is one necessary. Hence each reader will put together the book for himself, as in a game of dominoes or cards, and, as with a mirror, he will get out of this dictionary as much as he puts into it, for you [...] cannot get more out of the truth than what you put into it."

The book comes in two different editions, one "Male" and one "Female", which differ in only a critical paragraph. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dictionary_of_the_Khazars [Oct 2006]

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