Interlace Structure

Kelly Maudslien. English 111, Cyberspace, VR, and Critical Theory, 1998

The structure of Beowulf appears to be slowed down unnecessarily by irrelevant digressions, both fictional and historical. Moreover, these digressions mean even less to the contemporary reader, since Beowulf was composed for an audience which was familiar with all of the stories and histories it refers to. However, the Beowulf-poet did not have the same ideas of unity of plot as did Aristotle. Old English poetry disperses or splits the text

in two related ways. First, by removing the linearity of print, it frees the individual passages from one ordering principle -- sequence -- and threatens to transform the text into chaos. Second, hypertext destroys the notion of a fixed unitary text. Considering the "entire" text in relation to its component parts produces the first form of fragmentation; considering it in relation to its variant readings and versions produces the second. (Hypertext 2.0, 65)

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