P is for…Patchwork Girl

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 Frankensteinshe 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 Pillustration 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 patchworkgirlherself 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.

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24 Comments

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    1. Oh, it’s fantastic! I miss this sort of fiction—it requires special software and is complicated to compose, so it didn’t stick around past mid 90s or so, which is sad.

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    1. You can find it at Eastgate Publishing on disc—not sure they sell it in any other format because of the software needed to use the hypertext links.

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  1. We’re big fans of the Nightmare Before Christmas in this house, and the similarity between Patchwork Girl and Sally in NBC is very interesting!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for stopping by—let me know what you think if you do come across it! I know you can order it on CD from Eastgate, the publisher, but not sure about anywhere else to get it.

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  2. This is such an incredible idea. Never knew about it, so I’m so happy you mentioned it.
    I’m going to explore it 🙂

    I’ve read quite a few posts about Frankenstein on the AtoZ Challenge. It seems to be quite a popular topic. I read the story years a go and enjoyed it al lot. So modern. I didn’t expect it.

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    1. Yeah, it’s quite a modern story.

      Let me know what you think if you track down Patchwork Girl. I know it can be ordered on disc from the publisher, but I think that might be the best/easiest (maybe only) way to get it.

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  3. This was really interesting! I am a big fan of the original, and was not at all familiar with this.
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  4. Love the idea of this. It’s interesting how Frankenstein’s monster is always seen as the movie-versions, but he was very well versed and thoughtful, and it’s a shame that element (the heart of the story) never made it to the screen. I love the multiple psychological, philosophical, and religious ramifications of the female monster as well… certain parallels can’t be ignored. Great post. 🙂

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    1. Thanks!

      I agree about Frankenstein’s monster not always getting a fair shake in the film versions. One of the reasons I like Penny Dreadful so much is that the monster is eloquent and a fully-realized character, which is rare in adaptations.

      The female monster is really the heart of Jackson’s work. She narrates parts of the story and is presented as the author of it, as well.

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