Sunday Book-Thought 141

I asked in the first sentence of this chapter what happens to the act of reading when your novel knows where you are standing while you read it. And so there is another kind of answer that comes into view: reading produces new kinds of traces. The Silent History produces entirely new data about readers’ behavior. We can watch the reader as she moves through the novel – it is possible for Horowitz and Quinn to know how far each reader has read in the story, for instances, and how fast they read it, and on what day; readers’ imaginative responses, in the form of those field reports, are gathered and selectively added to the novel itself; Horowitz and Quinn know when and how often field reports are accessed. If they wanted to they could determine exactly when a reader stopped reading and where they were in the novel.
Amy Hungerford, Making Literature Now (Stanford: Sanford University Press, 2016), p. 111.


Sunday Book-Thought 85

As Georges Poulet reminds us, a book is not just an object among others: it gains its essential life only when read. No text is ‘a space that resists all intrusion’ and the only closed text is one that has never been opened. Once read, a book has a life beyond its physical or authorial confines, and that life is always interactive, even when the reader lives with the memory of the book, constructs him or herself as the dialogic counterpart of the author. At this stage, hypertext vividly illustrates the complex network of processes by which an active reader reads a work: it provides an external correlative for patterns of thought established in a culture of print.  Proponents and visionaries of the new discourse would do well to emphasise these continuities: the genius of hypertext resides in its unprecedented facility for making exterior mechanisms of consciousness which have been developed over the millennia since the invention of writing. Here one would want to add to the interiorisation thesis a related thesis of exteriorisation.
– Seán Burke, The Death and Return of the Author: Criticism and Subjectivity in Barthes, Foucault and Derrida, 2nd edn (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1998), p. 198