Resurrecting the Author

Lara Brody (English 112, 1996)

In Shelly Jackson's Patchwork Girl, the author asks, "What is the age of the resurrected body?" In the Graveyard (used here as an analogy for written language), a transformation of the author/reader identity takes place. The issue manifests itself as borders fade and the reader spontaneously traverses links, creating an original story. In this sense the reader becomes author as she gains the power to reestablish originality.

The reader challenges an old notion of creation, just as Jackson's Patchwork Girl does when her birth is multiplied through the combination of various body parts. "I am buried here. You can resurrect me but only piecemeal. If you want to see the whole, you will have to sew me together yourself." The monster and author and reader are buried under the pen, within the lexias that act as coffins to their story. It is through the establishment of links that, when read, bring a moving vocabulary to the space that is literature. It is a new space that (like the patched pieces of Frankenstein) is born through what previously existed.

But the reader-gone-author (as if the notion of divine powers was applicable to hypertext) gets to give life to what has been buried. This reader-author creates a whole in his or her own image if necessary, so that the age of the resurrected body, it seems, inheres in the age of hypertext itself. Unique linking gives the reader the ability to create something new, a new story pieced together, link by link, every time sewing a new identity of authorship from the pieces within the lexias.

We crawl out of the graveyard -- a place where literature cannot take on a living, breathing form -- in order to issue these new notions of identity that Patchwork Girl exemplifies.