After the Book, the Book? The Digital Writing Experiments of François Bon


  • Jeff Staiger University of Oregon



While most commentators believe that the print book will survive the advent of the ebook, it is at the same time hard not to think that the fundamental technological changes ushered in by the digital revolution will fail to have profound effects on the forms of the book. Arguing that literary forms have always depended on the “material conditions of their enunciation,” the French author François Bon uses historical examples to suggest the book will undergo major, if yet unforeseen, transformations. He maintains that it is urgent for writers to experiment with the possibilities brought about by the digital revolution, lest the actual developments be decided by the commercial interests of large technology entities. In his own experiments with the form of the book in the digital environment -- in his “novel” Tumulte, which consists of daily blog posts that mix fiction, memoir, criticism, and other genres, and in a series of digital remediations of his early novel, Limite -- Bon imaginatively explores the limits of the concept of the book. Yet while these experiments are suggestive, it is less clear that they represent viable avenues for the book’s development, since their main appeal is arguably for scholars and theoreticians. Focusing on the means of organization and delivery, and the ontological ambiguities arising from the multiple versions of the same text, Bon’s experiments skirt the core power of the book: the sustained arrangement of words that has been the principle means whereby books have conveyed content and sustained intellectual culture.

Author Biography

Jeff Staiger, University of Oregon

Humanities Librarian (English, French, Italian, Classics & Philosophy), Knight Library, University of Oregon


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