UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

I cannot place this : grief as destabilized order in interactive metafiction Sharpe, Jillian


Julio Cortázar’s Hopscotch and BS Johnson’s The Unfortunates depict the effects of loss on self-perception in a way that is informed by these books’ unconventional physical structures. Both are interactive texts that identify the fragmentation of the self as a key feature of grief and their aleatory, randomizable structures perform the involuntary and disruptive nature that Susan Brison identifies as characteristic of traumatic memory. These experimental books thus call attention to the physicality of reading and to the reader’s role as an active participant who is responsible for the construction of meaning that arises from physically ordering each text. The fragmentary nature of the grieving subject is embodied by chapter divisions, which in both texts act as the primary sites of randomization. In this respect, the chapters of these books can be productively understood using the framework of Derridean citationality, as their ability to be re-ordered in different contexts enables a multiplicity of potential meanings. The metafictional themes of both books further destabilize clear divisions between author and reader, with the texts ultimately suggesting that grief involves a disruption of the individual’s ability to position themselves within organizational frameworks such as causality that would enable straightforward comprehension of the self in relation to the world.

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