Springing from a poem composed of anagrams of the word "hypertext," Holeton's piece presents us with a metafictional Nabokovian romp in the form of a simple HTML hypertext. Perhaps playing with the high seriousness that surrounded much early hypertext criticism, Holeton parodies a form of academic discourse that sometimes takes itself too seriously.
Author description: Frequently Asked Questions about "Hypertext" is a short fiction, in the form of a FAQ document, that revolves around various interpretations of a 69-word poem called "Hypertext." The poem "Hypertext," nominally by "Alan Richardson," is composed from all the hidden words/anagrams contained within the nine-letter word "hypertext." The tongue-in-cheek interpretations of the fictional poem include the perspectives of language poetry, cultural studies, feminism, and transgender studies. Emerging through the interpretations and FAQ answers, however, are the interwoven "real-life" stories of the troubled author and his/her troubled critics. The poem's notoriety creates a fan fiction phenomenon centered around an online database, which, along with its creator(s), comes under attack. As in Nabokov's Pale Fire, pseudo-literary criticism gives way to a mystery story about the real author of the text, transformation and transsexuality, love and murder.
Instructions: Click through and read Frequently Asked Questions about "Hypertext" as a webpage.
Previous publication: A different version of Frequently Asked Questions about "Hypertext" was first published in the print journal ZYZZYVA (San Francisco), Winter 2004 issue (#72), under the title "Understanding Hypertext." A revised HTML version has been available since January 2006, http://holeton.web.stanford.edu/hypertext/.
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