What is E-Literature? E-Literature, or E-Lit, has been around since the 1980’s. It began with writers creating “choose your own adventure” stories, allowing the reader to interact with the text. E-Lit is not just interactive fiction, but poems and stories generated by computers, literary apps, and more. E-Literature is still a small scene, and it’s difficult to preserve. However, there are organizations such as the Electronic Literature Organization (ELO), which attempt to do so. Within E-Literature there are important works that have not only influenced writers in the field, but also outside the scene as well. Here are three of them.
1. Ad Verbum by Nick Montfort
Ad Verbum is an interactive fiction program written and created by Nick Montfort. It is a wordplay-based game and story. The program generates words and writes poetry when the user interacts with it. All the user has to do is type a few words and poetry will appear. There is a story that goes along with it as well, about a contractor trying to demolish the Wizard of Wordplay’s manor. Ad Verbum won the 2000 XYZZY Award for Best Puzzle.
2. Marble Spring by Deena Larsen
Marble Spring is Deena Larsen’s first work and one of the first major works of E-Literature. It is a fictional story of women living in Colorado based in the tradition of Winesburg, Ohio. The novel works through hypertext (clickable links) as the reader navigates the story. It is now set up like a Wiki page, allowing readers to explore the infinite characters in Marble Spring.
3. GRAMMATRON by Mark Amerika
GRAMMATRON is an interactive art piece written by Mark Amerika. GRAMMATRON is about a future where stories are no longer involved with books. Instead they are conceived on digital platforms. It also deals with the rise of the Internet, and spirituality in the digital age. The work was selected for the 2000 Whitney Biennial of American Art; and the site has had over 500,000 visitors.
Although E-Literature is a small genre it has had a huge impact on the way we think about literature. It has changed the definition of what a book is. These writers, as well as many others, have paved the way for a technological shift in written works.