If you want to see the whole, you will have to piece me together yourself.
–from Patchwork Girl
Patchwork Girl is a modern answer to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; she is a rendering of the female monster created by Victor Frankenstein and subsequently destroyed. Shelley Jackson’s 1995 hypertext fiction tells the story of the female creature, who was rescued and finished by Mary Shelley herself.
The story is told via hypertext, electronic fiction—various words, phrases, and illustration are clickable, linking to other parts of the text and making multiple pathways through the story. At various points, readers can even click on the body parts of the Patchwork Girl and discover where they came from, learn the stories of how each of her limbs came to be her won.
The text itself is a masterpiece. There are so many ways to read the story, quite literally as well as figuratively. Portions of Frankenstein are interlaced with other sources (including Derrida and Baum’s Patchwork Girl of Oz) and Shelley Jackson’s own version of Mary Shelley’s voice. The effect is dizzying–but that’s part of what makes the text enjoyable.
The Patchwork Girl herself is born when Frankenstein pieces her together, but he becomes afraid of what might happen, afraid of potentially spawning a race of monsters, and destroys her. But then she is reborn—Mary Shelley herself finds the Patchwork girl and saves her. Eventually, she travels with Mary Shelley to America, where they become lovers. She lives until the mid-1990s, when she begins to disintegrate.
Patchwork Girl is a monster in a labyrinth—follow her around for a bit. 🙂
Bonus: The first of a four-video series in which Shelley Jackson talks her way through Patchwork Girl. You can find the other three videos in the series on that channel, too.