Afternoon, a story  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Afternoon, a story is a work of electronic literature written in 1987 by American author Michael Joyce. It was published by Eastgate Systems in 1990 and is known as the first hypertext fiction.

Afternoon was first offered to the public as a demonstration of the hypertext authoring system Storyspace, announced in 1987 at the first Association for Computing Machinery Hypertext conference in a paper by Michael Joyce and Jay David Bolter. In 1990, it was published on diskette and distributed in the same form by Eastgate Systems. It was followed by a series of other Storyspace hypertext fictions, including Stuart Moulthrop's Victory Garden, Shelley Jackson's Patchwork Girl and Deena Larsen's Marble Springs.

Plot and structure

The hypertext fiction tells the story of Peter, a recently divorced man who witnessed a car crash that may or may not have involved his ex-wife and their son.


This is one of the most-discussed works of electronic literature, and many articles have been written about it. Espen J. Aarseth devotes a chapter of his book Cybertext to Afternoon, calling it a classic example of modernist literature. It is more often thought of as a work of Postmodern literature, as evidenced by its inclusion in the Norton Anthology of Postmodern American Fiction. Chapters of Jay David Bolter's Writing Space and J. Yellowlees Douglas's The End of Books or Books Without End also discuss Afternoon. Gunnar Liestøl's article "Wittgenstein, Genette, and the Reader's Narrative in Hypertext" in George Landow's Hyper/Text/Theory (1994) uses the theory of narratology to understand Afternoon, as does Jill Walker's "Piecing Together and Tearing Apart: Finding the Story in Afternoon" and Anna Gunders's dissertation work.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Afternoon, a story" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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