Remediation, Oral Storytelling, and the Printed Book: The Stylistic Strategies of Mark Z. Danielewski’s The Fifty Year Sword
Employing close stylistic analysis, Alison Gibbons demonstrates that Mark Z. Danielewski’s novella The Fifty Year Sword abounds with linguistic, typographical, and narrative devices that remediate folkloristic oral storytelling, as exemplified by the novella’s embedded ghost story. At the same time, however, Danielewski’s fiction also draws the readers’ attention to the material and textual features of the printed book through the use of multimodality, paratextual elements, multiple narrators, and experiments with word choice and phonological patterning. Gibbons’s detailed analysis shows that poetics of bookishness may function in contemporary literature both to address the codex’s shifting position in digital culture and to reconnect present literary practices with older literary traditions, such as oral storytelling around the campfire, that offer communal forms of art and communication.
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