The Archive and the Future of the Novel

By Jonathan Ball.

Published by The International Journal of the Book

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Despite the pretensions of critics, post-structuralist and post-modernist literary theory has enjoyed only limited application in the literature of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. I suggest this is due not just to conservative impulses in the literary world, but to the primacy of the codex as a delivery technology within the publishing industry. Codex technology, in its physical form, works counter to the literary values of post-structuralist thought. These theories suggest a metaphorical conception of the novel as an animate organism, whose evolution and increasing complexity has involved the novel’s incorporation of extra-literary materials and the adoption of a fragmentary structure. The logical extension of this development is that the codex will be succeeded by the archive as the novel’s technological form. I provide a brief overview of the possibilities that the archive form offers the novel—and, by extension, the book in general—which the codex does not. This paper holds relevance not only for artists charged with creating these future books, but also for the publishing industry, whose approach to delivery technologies must be completely reconceived if it is to compete in the realm of new media.

Keywords: Archive, Anarchive, Codex, Future of the Novel, Book to Come, Technology, Literature, e-Book, Audiobook

International Journal of the Book, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp.71-76. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 473.992KB).

Jonathan Ball

Student, ABD, English Department, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada

A writer, filmmaker, and scholar, currently ABD PhD at the University of Calgary, Jonathan Ball specializes in Creative Writing and Canadian literature, with a focus on experimental art. His research focuses on experimental approaches to artistic composition, and their relevance within the publishing industry at large.


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