- Purchase/rental options available:
Published on CD-ROM, Shelley Jackson’s Patchwork Girl (1995) is a hypertext rewriting of Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein (1818). This essay examines the gothic evocations of oral rhetoric seen in these two texts. Writing a multiframed, epistolary novel and a work of hypertext fiction respectively, Shelley and Jackson defy a writing culture that emphasizes originality and objectivity, and foreground oral characteristics such as intertextuality and an empathic audience relationship. Frankenstein is a product of Shelley’s oral-style composition that weaves preexisting materials. Its epistolary frame, wherein the reader is posited as the ultimate addressee of Walton’s letters, gives the reader a quasi-oral sense of immediacy and vivid realism. The hypertext Patchwork Girl is an electronic text(ile), woven not with needle or pen but with the cut, copy, and paste functions of a computer. Comparable to the oral bard’s memory, the computer becomes a prosthetic storytelling device enabling man–machine collaboration, while the informal narrative voice heightens audience interaction.