Sunday, January 22, 2012

Marc Saporta's "Composition No. 1", published by Visual Editions

Visual Editions, the folks behind Jonathan Safran Foer's Tree of Codes and a wonderful reprint of Tristram Shandy recently published a new edition of one of the foundational works of hypertext: Marc Saporta's Composition No. 1.

Composition No. 1 was originally published in France in 1962, and has a very simple, trailblazing characteristic: the "book" consists of 150 unbound pages stacked inside a clamshell case.

Further, Composition No. 1 can be read in any order! It features a handful of disparate threads revolving around a small cast of characters as well as some great abstract scenes with nameless people ("the nurse", "the secretary", etc.). These nameless characters fit in nicely with the loose plot, as they provide certain malleable developments depending on the order they are read and the stories the modify. It's a very fascinating read, and one that requires the reader to create his or her own experience.

Visual Editions did a great job with their reprint, which includes text-based artwork on the reverse of every page. Take a look:

Currently reading:
Ulysses by James Joyce
Parallel Stories by Peter Nadas
The Flame Alphabet by Ben Marcus

Currently listening to:
Jozef van Wissem, "Ex Patris"


  1. this book sounds amazing! yes and yes wissem. so i just wanna get this straight - if i kiss this book will it make out with me back? i mean linguistically. sounds like it's not as much curvy as it is rectangular and layered. what does that mean for my @#$&#$ ??? i like to use math so it's helpful for me to know.

    1. Just buy it dinner first!

      (but, if you're actually talking about the free-form movement of this plot, I think while there are 150-factorial different ways to read the book, certain plot point will remain constant and result in familiar re-readings)