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Reading Alternatives

Please note: this article was written in 2001 and is part of my Master's thesis. It is here for archival purposes only. See the bottom of this page for licensing information.

-Vika Zafrin (email me with any questions)

You have a choice.

By going to the homepage and following the link to "Read RolandHT," [defunct -vz] you will be taken (via a new browser window) to a passage randomly selected by a script from all of the excerpts quoted in the project. It will be the equivalent of opening a book to any page and just starting to read. From there, you will be able to follow text links to other (no longer randomly selected) passages from different works relating to Roland. When critical exposition relating to the subject matter of a particular passage is available, a red symbol will appear by the top left corner of the text box; clicking on it will take you out of the narrative and give you an opportunity to read about the narrative instead. Also, in cases where a storyline is particularly long, a bow-and-arrow symbol will appear at the bottom right corner of the text box. By clicking on it, you will be able to proceed along that storyline for a while. In addition, you will be able to access the Map at any time by clicking on the Sitemap link at the bottom of the page.

Your other choice is to navigate using the Map [defunct -vz] as a starting point. All of the excerpts from works about Roland which are quoted in this project are linked from there, the links clearly organized by work, and chronologically within each work. As you will see, no one book is quoted here in its entirety; included are only those passages which are both directly pertinent to our hero and thematically related to other such passages. Once you select a passage to read, you can follow the links from within it, or go back to the Map if you wish.

The difference between the two readings is, then, twofold. The starting point—how you get into discovering Roland—is either a matter of chance, as in the first option, or one of conscious choice, as in the second. Also, once you have started to read RolandHT, you may either proceed in any precise order you choose (as in the Map option), or follow thematic links from within the texts, and piece together this composite Roland personality using only keywords within texts as your guide.

Not using the Map to read RolandHT is the original idea behind this project. The composite Roland is literally a larger entity than any of the individual protagonists written about in the works I've quoted. I have, therefore, used every opportunity to disassociate this new, composite, sometimes self-contradicting multitude of personalities that is RolandHT from any individual plotline, time period or author. If a unilinear plotline is the aim, all one has to do is acquire a book about Roland, open it and begin reading. This project presents the reader with the opportunity to skip around, follow links which are thematically interesting at the time, and piece together his or her own Roland.

That said, the usefulness of the Map is doubtless. It is easy to switch between one mode of reading and the other; if you get disoriented, or if you are interested in putting a specific passage in context, or if you are just more comfortable getting to know Roland from within a more clear-cut framework, the Map is great for that. I would encourage you, however, to give the skipping around a try.   -vz

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License.