by E Fülöp · Cited by 3 — In this respect, LIMITE is representative of Bon’s active advocacy of the need for literary authors to embrace new technologies and the advantages such progress

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LIMITE u nbound digitalized fiction and the reinvention of the book Erika Fülöp Lancaster University Abstract Since 2005, François Bon, who began his literary career in the 1980s as a novelist, has gradually shifted the focus of his work onto his now all – encompassing web – based literary and multimedia oeuvre, As part of this transition from paper to web, Bon returned to his printed books to showcase them digitally. Most notably, in 2010 he undertook to retype his second novel, Limite (1985), to publish it in the form of a blog, prefacing each passage with an autobiographical and critical commentary. Once completed, he re edited the full commented text as an e – book. This article argues that even though all three versions have the same narrative at their core, each stage of this project offers something different to the reader and suggests a different focus and conception of literature. T ogether they illustrate that the shifts between media change the reading experience even without exploiting much of the potential for hyperlinking and interactivity, and that before and beyond all the possible narrative experiments it enables , the digital transition means for literature a move away from Keywords: François Bon, digital transition, e – book, electronic literature, Limite , literature o n the web, project, reader experience , rewriting , Le Tiers Livre As of July 2016, t he shortest version of François his website Le Tiers Livre [The Third Book] read s : Fut. W ( Bon 3569) . 1 The verb i s

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hyperlin ked to the front page of the site, directly identifying the author with his virtual writerly empire. It is only in the longer versions bio that he mentions the printed book s that preceded the site. Bon began his writing career in 1982 as a novelist with Sortie [ Leaving the F actory ] ( Paris: Minuit) , created his first website in 1997, and has since transferred all his activity onto his constantly evolving and expanding virtual Le Tiers Livre , which is now also home to his one – man e – publisher, Tiers Livre Éditeur. L imite (Paris: Minuit , 1985) was his second novel , which he undertook to retype manual ly in 2010, publishing it as a series on as he progressed ( Bon 2242 ) , changing very little but prefacing every passage with a n autobiographical commentary on its genesis and content . When the annotated digital series was completed, he published the whole as an e – book, now available from the catalogue of Tiers Livre Éditeur . LIMITE , 2 as a project now encompassing three versions , experiments on the web and in the French digital literary landscape in several respects. First, rather than simply moving from the web to a book or from a book to the web, the novel has journey ed from a book through the web to an e – book , 3 and then back again to the book, but of a different kind, with the print – on – demand option launched in June 2016, after the completion of this article . As such, it also offers a complete small – journey and transitions. Second , it combines two distinct and distant modes of engagement with (re) writing: on the one hand, the physical gesture of recopying an entire book in a different medium or surface , and the authorial self – commentary on the other. T h ird and perhaps most importantly in the context of the present collection of articles , and creative engagement with digital technology does not need to involve either innovative narrative techniques or experimentation with mo des of human – machine interactivity in order for it to manifest a logic fundamentally different from the one associated with the printed book.

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Electronic Literature Organizat advantage of the capabilities and contexts provided by the sta nd – alone or networked noting of the distinguish es between works based precisely The former , up until around 1995, were innovative thanks to the use of the hyp ertext link, but capabilities of the 7) . The s on stand – alone fictional works, and the possibility of an entire literary oeuvre being produced in the digital environment as an organically digital product of literary authorship , or l iterary product of digital authorship , falls outside her perspective , as it does for much scholarship on the subject . This is, however, where François lies . Rather than expanding literature by producing ne w forms of narrative or poetry enabled by technology, Bon explores the potential that has always been present in literature and writing but which technology allows us to make more visible and accessible in its immediacy and processuality . does not simply dictate the logic of the individual work, but the approach to writing, literature, and authorship more generally , and all that that means for the reader . I n this respect , LIMITE active advocacy of the n eed for literary authors to embrace new technologies and the advantages such progress can offer. In this spirit and with all the se features , rather than simply a book, LIMITE is a project and part of a larger project or series of projects, both in the sense in which Bon (2016c) himself uses the term to explain the digital transition in literature, where the logic of

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the book is replaced by the logic of the project, and in the sense elaborated by Johnnie Gratton and Michael Sheringham (2005 : 1 ) involving setting up experiments, taking soundings, carrying out sets of instructions or sticking to an account of the conduct of the project or experiment, the record or trace of its succ ess or failure, its consistency with or devi ation from its initial premises . While the commented complete re – edit ion of the novel on the w eb has been noted and analysed by Gilles Bonnet ( 2014 , 2015), the publication of the e – boo k did not attract much attention and Bonnet himself mentions it only in passing, identifying it with the online version . Yet this transfer is n ot without implications : the logic of the e – book is not the same as that of a website . I t creates a different context and facilitat es different modes of reading , inviting the media – specific analysis advocated by Hayles (2004). The particularity of the mobile e – reading device has recently begun to be considered distinct from the computer screen , with its specific implications for reading and opportunities for creative practice (Guilet and Pelard 2016) . Alexandra Saemmer (2015) has elaborated on how text s anticipate specific modes of reading and how the rhetoric of digital texts differ s from other forms of textual existence . D ifferences can be observed not only in the transition from paper to digital, but also between two modes of digital existence, the web (blog or website) and the e – book , as the case of LIMITE will show . In addition to the semantic and rhetorical features examined by Saemmer in relation to the medium and the reader expectations they can generate , the e – book also lends itself to a different framing in terms of genre and status . In LIMITE , the generic and editorial framing of the text changes with the e – book, partly encouraged by the medium and partly taking

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advantage of the opportunity offered by the different medium to propose a yet again modified version. T he reframing thus concerns not only the material conditions of reading but also the inscription into existing social and cultural practices, the changes in which, as frame theory (Goffman 1974 ) and the pragmatic genre and fiction theories inspired b y it ( Nielsen et al. 2015 ; Schaeffer 1989 , 1999 ) have demonstrated, affect the reading . The transmedia l metamorphoses of this book , which is no longer a book, touches on key questions literature fac es in the Digital Age : the status of the text and its relation to what surrou nds it; its instability, extensibility, and the limits of its identity; the role of the author; t he relationship to the reader; the new modes of reading , including the text offers to the reader , and their impact on the reception. L urking behind these is the big question of the life or death of books and literature in the digitally networked society. Alexandre Gefen ( 2015 ) observes a sharp opposition in this respect between the Anglophone optimism about the continuing love of literature and the francophone discourse decrying the end of literature . The apocalyptic spirit has indeed been thriving on the challenges digitization undeniably poses to prin t culture and sustained reading. Alain Fi nkielkraut (2001, 2015) , Cédric Biagini and Guillaume Carnino (2007) have been the loudest and most persistent among the French voices , but the American Nicholas Carr (2010) has reached farther , setting the balance straight . Gefen (2009) reminds us that the French catastrophism did not need the Internet to see disaster and has a long tradition, which he traces back to the seventeenth century , and we can a d d that the positive approach also remains well represented today. François Bon is the most prominent figure in the camp of those who, without denying the challenges technology poses to the traditional forms of textuality associated with literary quality, see in the digital revolution an exciting opportunity for creative writerly practice and active engage ment with texts , b oth as a writer and as a reader , including the fading of the separation between these roles .

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The case of LIMITE provides an insight into how Bon conceives of using this opportunity to refresh our image of the text and reinvent the book. This article examines the way in which this happens through the transitions of a literary work from print to web and then from web to e – book. The analysis of the particularities of the medium and the authorial modifications in the framing of the text as well as in its content from one version to another will highlight the shifting oeuvre and the b roader context of th e culture as an ecosystem , the impact of these on the f fictionality and literariness , the implied conception of literature , and t he role attributed to the reader . In all this, it is ultimately the concept of the book that is at stake, and the three versions of LIMITE and the project as an open whole show a successful example of how they can coexist and complement one another. Limite , the b ook Limite is composed of the inner voices of four young men in late – 1970s France: Joël, the guitarist; Alain, the industrial designer; Joly, the factory worker and footballer; and Yves, who is unemployed. We see each of their perspectives in turns, following their respective streams of consciousness mixing present, past, and dreams, thinking about their own life and each other, and about Monique, who is their shared point of reference as a friend and/or a lover, past, present, or only coveted. The flux of these inte rior monologues, only interrupted by switches between the voices, revolves around a fracture present in each life, except perhaps for the musician: Alain suffers from Monique leaving him and his joyless work attempted suicide linger in the background in an obscure zone between the implicit and not – yet – happened and materialize f or the reader only at the end of the novel. As a reviewer sums

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le monde, on touche avec les mains et on touche avec la langue that , you go at it with your hands and touch, touch the world, you touch it with your ha nds and yo ur tongue/ language , 4 h ( 2015b) . Ruth Holzberg – Namad (1987: 424) Limite on Bon construction ]a réalité, ( Bon 3621) : it is through language that he reaches and creates reality . In this spirit, d efying the negative Baudriallardian discourse on hy perreality and the advent of simulacra , Bon interest in the web is rooted in the more fluid, malleable, dispersed and immediate contact with the real, between language and real ity , and between texts and people that it enabl es. Beyond the book : From the novel to the networked novel of the novel Bon (2011: 64) explains the purpose of his website, Le Tiers Livre , but a third mode of presence of the book, a book . Alison James (2011) extension of the domain of writing a nd reading . This new, virtual literary space has indeed come to dictate the very logic of B dans la logique même de développement de ce site anywhere other than this site, and following the very logic of the development of this site ( 4109, my emphasis). The double embeddedness of each new piece of writing into the inner network of and in the

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panes and layers ] , Bon (4224) scours en est quelque be surprised if the discourse is somewhat affected by it . Emphasizing 5 ) goes so far as to call him an screen ] and writer ]) though it is not so much the screen but the network that is responsible for the radical change. Were it not impossible to . In addition to changing the logic of the individual wo rk and from production to publication, the web environment also impacts on the concept of the oeuvre as a whole. René Audet and Simon Brousseau (2011: 10) observe that moving online involves : un – archive profondé ment mosaïquée. [a double movement of diffraction of the contents and archival accumulation, a movement which thus comes to blur the identity of each literary and artistic project in favour of a stratified and reticulated capture pro ducing a truly mosaic – like work – archive . ] Le Tiers Livre as an extensive and intensive literary and multimedia website is characterized by the proliferation of small – scale writing that often engages with the present and inscribes itself in fluxes running across the web, developing simultaneously on a variety of

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interconnected threads, each with their own rhythm. The hypermedia environment in which all this is embedded encourages adventuring beyond textuality, which Bon has engaged in first th r ough photography and now incr easingly with his video series, 5 including a regular video , and active participation in social networks, so that Le Tiers Livre is constantly approaching the that Florence Thérond ( 2015) perceives behind it . active involvement with the web also means that he [ – examines books through (4224 ) , including the books of others as well as his own. Le Tiers Livre ( Bon 27 ) offers commentaries on, excerpts from, and manuscript reproductions of, his literature published – – write reprend sans cesse ses propres textes: il les corrige, les complète, les remédiatise dans un completes, remediatizes them in a constant effort of . Migrating his work has required a systematic rereading and re – evaluation of those works, which has given the network. The post – book work on Limite in scribes itself into this integrative and reflective re – visitation of his novels. Bon presents the 2010 project in the following terms: Limite, Minuit, 1985 & roman de Limite republication numérique révisée de mon 2ème livre, Limite (éditions de Minuit, 1985), avec commentaires et making – of Limite, Minuit, 1985 : la reprise numérique comme réécriture

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Limite , mon 2ème livre, commencé à Marseille en 1983, terminé 1985. une réflexion sur les sources autobiographiques, les formes littéraires convoqué es, et le travail lui – même. confirmée à mesure de la réalisation: un livre numérique complet en ligne, composé de deux couches superposées le texte réécrit (peu), et le commentaire (2242) [Limit, M inuit 1 985 & novel of Limite revised digital re – edit ion of my second book, Limite (Minuit, 1985), with commentaries and making of Limit, Minuit 1985: the digitalization as rewriting In September 2010, I begin to manually retype Limit , my second novel, started in Marseille in 1983 and completed at the Villa Medici in the winter of 1984 19 85. The idea: as I am revisiting these very old layers of my work, reflect on the autobiographical sources, the literary forms present , and the work itself. The idea confirmed as the project progressed: a complete digital book online, comprising two superposed layers the (lightly) rewritten text, and the commentary which accompan ies each section. ] The undertaking seems to begin (Bonnet 2015) : t he first and only edition of the original novel is out of print, posing a problem of acce ssibility which, as Thé rond (2015: 7) notes, is an important motivation for Bon, always keen to promouvoir un modè le de renc

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