The idea that in essence, every text ever created ultimately comes from one Source, is part of one large network of texts, is central to writers such as Barthes, Derrida and Italo Calvino. In hypertextual terms, this idea would appear as a docuverse, an all-encompassing network of every text ever written, that could be accessed using only a few links.

For these three writers, this underscores the notion of context. Every book, indeed every word in every book, exists in a larger context consisting of other books written previously, works and ideas contemporary with the artist, and larger cultural forces such as political trends, the development of the language(s) the artist employs, or prominent social concerns and standards. Thus, no work can truly be understood without approximating understanding of the context in which that work was produced. I say "approximating" as it is unlikely that every contextual force underlying a text could be learned, for these may contain personal events in the artists' life and a wealth of cultural or literary influences.

Even understanding the text that I am creating here would involve not only knowledge of the subjects I discuss, but of my personal interests, of the topics that my hypertext class discussed, and even of the limits of the program with which I created this text. Derrida has proved outstanding in his insistence on tracing back the contextual links to words and ideas in books, while Landow and others have shown how hypertext is an excellent tool to force us to reexamine the effects that the technology of a given medium (such as printed books) influence the work produced in that medium.

The life of the author?

The death of the author?

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