Fiction with footnotes

29 views
Skip to first unread message

Arthur Wohlwill

unread,
Jun 6, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/6/96
to

In article <4p8klk$6...@zap.io.org> bu...@zap.io.org (William Denton) writes:
>From: bu...@zap.io.org (William Denton)
>Subject: Fiction with footnotes
>Date: 7 Jun 1996 03:10:44 -0400

>A while ago it occurred to me that a novel with footnotes could be
>fairly interesting. The writer could explain obscure references, give
>a bibliographic recommendation, follow a character for a few minutes
>after she's left the room, crack wise, and so on.

(stuff deleted)
>If anyone knows of any other examples, I'd love to know. If there are
>enough, or if anyone mails me with some, I'll summarize here.


Larry Beinhart's(?) American Hero a novel in which the war in Iraq is
scripted in Hollywood has many foonotes detailing relevant history.

Arthur Wohlwill Adwo...@UIC.EDU

>--
>--
>William Denton | <URL:http://www.io.org/~buff/> | bu...@io.org | Caveat lector.
> "Let's keep the party polite."

--
bob storti
University of Illinois at Chicago
E-Mail: rvst...@uic.edu

William Denton

unread,
Jun 7, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/7/96
to

A while ago it occurred to me that a novel with footnotes could be
fairly interesting. The writer could explain obscure references, give
a bibliographic recommendation, follow a character for a few minutes
after she's left the room, crack wise, and so on.

I've only come across a couple of writers that use them, and both were
working historically: Robert Anton Wilson's Historical Illuminatus
trilogy, and George MacDonald Fraser's Flashman books. Fraser often
uses footnotes (rather, endnotes) to give biographical sketches of
real people Flashy encounters.

If anyone knows of any other examples, I'd love to know. If there are
enough, or if anyone mails me with some, I'll summarize here.


Bill

brian r. mcdonald

unread,
Jun 7, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/7/96
to

William Denton (bu...@zap.io.org) wrote:
: A while ago it occurred to me that a novel with footnotes could be

: fairly interesting. The writer could explain obscure references, give
: a bibliographic recommendation, follow a character for a few minutes
: after she's left the room, crack wise, and so on.


: If anyone knows of any other examples, I'd love to know. If there are


: enough, or if anyone mails me with some, I'll summarize here.


the novel The Scottish Chiefs by jane (?) porter has
a few. it's about wallace and bruce, and the footnotes are to
document various historical points.

chiwito

--
part-time longshoreman and full-time dilettente at the game of go
bibliophile, skeptic, oulipian, liberal, romantic
"if you've got 'em by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow"


Mark Taranto

unread,
Jun 7, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/7/96
to

Lots of fiction can be bought in annotated versions -- which has
the same effect, though it is usually not the author who provides
the footnotes.

Most of the notes in Stuart Gilbert's guide to ULYSSES were
provided by Joyce.

If you wish to widen the field beyond fiction, Eliot provides
footnotes to some of the references in "The Wasteland."


Mark

PJK

unread,
Jun 7, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/7/96
to

In article <4p97pj$6...@morrow.stanford.edu>,
on 7 Jun 1996 12:37:07 GMT,
Francis Muir <fra...@pangea.Stanford.EDU> writes:

>William Denton writes:
>
> A while ago it occurred to me that a novel with footnotes could be
> fairly interesting. The writer could explain obscure references,
> give a bibliographic recommendation, follow a character for a few
> minutes after she's left the room, crack wise, and so on.
>
> I've only come across a couple of writers that use them, and both
> were working historically: Robert Anton Wilson's Historical
> Illuminatus trilogy, and George MacDonald Fraser's Flashman books.
> Fraser often uses footnotes (rather, endnotes) to give biographical
> sketches of real people Flashy encounters.
>
> If anyone knows of any other examples, I'd love to know. If there
> are enough, or if anyone mails me with some, I'll summarize here.
>
>Thomas Love Peacock has footnotes in his novels -- I have put it down to the
>fact that he was autodidact and liked to shew off some of his more obscure
>literary knowledge. I cannot remember off hand, but I'm farly certain that
>some later critical editions of Peacock's novels -- Garnett? -- have footnotes
>to the footnotes, which makes for a copy editor's nightmare.
>
> Philomath

What's-ziz-name Vollman uses footnotes, hand drawn maps, had drawn pictures
in his historical novels. The Ice Shirt, Fathers and Crows, etc.

Pjk

Francis Muir

unread,
Jun 7, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/7/96
to

Coleman Kendall

unread,
Jun 7, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/7/96
to

_Infinite Jest_ has lots of footnotes (or end notes); some of them
seem to correct errors in the text, while others seem to consist of
extended conversations that somehow did not fit into the main narrative.

Cole Kendall

E J M Duggan

unread,
Jun 7, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/7/96
to bu...@io.org

On 7 Jun 1996, Francis Muir wrote:

> William Denton writes:
>
> A while ago it occurred to me that a novel with footnotes could be
> fairly interesting. The writer could explain obscure references,
> give a bibliographic recommendation, follow a character for a few
> minutes after she's left the room, crack wise, and so on.
>
> I've only come across a couple of writers that use them, and both
> were working historically: Robert Anton Wilson's Historical
> Illuminatus trilogy, and George MacDonald Fraser's Flashman books.
> Fraser often uses footnotes (rather, endnotes) to give biographical
> sketches of real people Flashy encounters.
>
> If anyone knows of any other examples, I'd love to know. If there
> are enough, or if anyone mails me with some, I'll summarize here.

Check out Manuel Puig's _Kiss of the Spiderwoman_
Interesting novel, run-of-the-mill film.

Eddie Duggan

+===========================================================================+
| <E.Du...@uea.ac.uk> |
| * T H E B I G H O U S E O F K N O W L E D G E * |
| Suffolk College, Rope Walk, Ipswich, Suffolk IP4 1LT UK +44(0)1473 296673 |

+===========================================================================+
DISCLAIMER: The views expressed above are my views and do not necessarily
represent the view of _either_ The Suffolk College _or_ The University of
East Anglia. Equally, the views of the aforesaid institutions are their
views and do not necessarily represent _my_ view. Clear? END OF DISCLAIMER
+===========================================================================+

Robert Teeter

unread,
Jun 7, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/7/96
to

_The Mezzanine_ by Nicholson Baker, not because he has any
significant historical events to explain, but so he can delve more
deeply into his odd little obsessions, like the parallel evolution in
the design of railroad engines, staplers, and phonograph tone-arms.
You either like this sort of thing, or you don't. I did.


--
Bob Teeter (rte...@netcom.com) | "Write me a few of your lines"
http://www.wco.com/~rteeter/ | --Mississippi Fred McDowell
Contra CDA: Reproductive health info is available from Planned Parenthood,
1691 The Alameda, San Jose, CA 95126 (408) 287-7526


ke...@worldnet.att.net

unread,
Jun 7, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/7/96
to

bu...@zap.io.org (William Denton) wrote:
>A while ago it occurred to me that a novel with footnotes could be
>fairly interesting. The writer could explain obscure references, give
>a bibliographic recommendation, follow a character for a few minutes
>after she's left the room, crack wise, and so on.

The Third Policeman, Flann O'Brien

The Alexandria Quartet, Lawrence Durrell

Jack Carroll


Barbara Crossman

unread,
Jun 7, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/7/96
to

Piers Anthony wrote a book called _But What of Earth?_ (I think that's
it, at least) that had a lot of footnotes, editor's comments, etc.
Extremely hard to follow for me, but probably enjoyable to others.

Dave


Nichael Cramer

unread,
Jun 7, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/7/96
to

ke...@worldnet.att.net wrote:

Or Tim O'Brien's _Lake of the Wood_.

Nichael Cramer
nic...@sover.net __
http://www.sover.net/~nichael Be as passersby -- IC

Eric J. Meyer

unread,
Jun 7, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/7/96
to

William Denton (bu...@zap.io.org) wrote:
: A while ago it occurred to me that a novel with footnotes could be
: fairly interesting. The writer could explain obscure references, give
: a bibliographic recommendation, follow a character for a few minutes
: after she's left the room, crack wise, and so on.

Winton Barnhardt, _Gospel_, in which his footnotes discuss the
biblical scholarship behind his characters' adventures.
--
Eric Meyer | email: er...@slc.unisys.com
Unisys Longmont Unix Group | phone: (303) 678-9303
| Opinions herein are my own,
#include <aphorism.h> | not my employer's.

Gary Thorn

unread,
Jun 7, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/7/96
to

David Foster Wallace uses end notes exhaustively in "Infinite Jest."

--gt


K. Harper

unread,
Jun 7, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/7/96
to

C.S. Lewis wrote a footnote into _Out of the Silent Planet_ that
quoted an ancient named Natvilcius. Lewis' Cambridge and Oxford
colleagues thought it was a wonderful joke: the name translates as "I
know not whom" in Latin.

Humorist Frank Sullivan was so annoyed by Van Wyck Brooks' copious
footnotes (yes, I know, VWB was non-fiction) that he wrote a splendid
little parody called "A Garland of Ibids," which you'll find in The
Modern Library's _A Subtreasury of American Humor_. (My favorite
comment: "24Yoo-hoo! Footnote!")

I believe Peter B. Kyne and James Branch Cabell used them, too.


Katherine Harper
Department of English
Bowling Green State University

irina.bondarenko

unread,
Jun 8, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/8/96
to

In article <4p8klk$6...@zap.io.org>, William Denton <bu...@zap.io.org> wrote:
>A while ago it occurred to me that a novel with footnotes could be
>fairly interesting. The writer could explain obscure references, give
>a bibliographic recommendation, follow a character for a few minutes
>after she's left the room, crack wise, and so on.
>
>I've only come across a couple of writers that use them, and both were
>working historically: Robert Anton Wilson's Historical Illuminatus
>trilogy, and George MacDonald Fraser's Flashman books. Fraser often
>uses footnotes (rather, endnotes) to give biographical sketches of
>real people Flashy encounters.
>
>If anyone knows of any other examples, I'd love to know. If there are
>enough, or if anyone mails me with some, I'll summarize here.
>
>
>Bill
>

Not exactly footnotes, but I believe Jane Austen elaborated after
_Pride and Prejudice_ was published on what became of the main
characters after P+P ended. It might have been in her letters.

xan...@kublikan.edu

unread,
Jun 8, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/8/96
to

In article <4p8klk$6...@zap.io.org>, bu...@zap.io.org (William Denton) wrote:

> A while ago it occurred to me that a novel with footnotes could be
> fairly interesting. The writer could

(1) > explain obscure references,
(2) > give a bibliographic recommendation,
(3) > follow a character for a few minutes after she's left the room,
(4) > crack wise,
(5) >and so on.

From what I can tell from the responses, footnotes are being used in
fiction to provide factual/historical background, which would fit into
your category 1, explain something, your category 3, or go off on some
kind of interesting but only marginally relevant detour, which is a
category 5.

Your category 4 seems to be missing so far, but I'm sure it will show up.
It's just a matter of how the author maintains his distance.

But what I was wondering was whether anything has been written which
*integrates* the footnote into the narrative flow. I can imagine at least
two ways this might be done. One is to tell some other part of the story -
either something happening at the same time, or at a different time, which
either augments the narrative or provides some sort of counter narrative.

The other thing that flashed on me was our old friend, hypertext. In a
sense, Choose Your Own Adventure Books are hypertextural, and the two or
three choices facing the reader are something like footnotes. I can
imagine a novel which uses footnotes to permit the reader to move around
the book in other than mere page order - sort of an alternative structure
of the same novel - , or sends the reader ahead to some other event which
can be read before returning to the page of departure. For that matter,
the footnote might send the reader *back* to something previously read, so
that he can re-read it in light of what he has learned.

Now, I have yet to read the Alexandria Quartet, but I wonder if a set of
interrelated novels like those might not be restructured to take advantage
of the hypertextual opportunities I think I see in footnotes?

Another fine candidate for this sort of thing might be Ulysses. Can you
imagine what Joyce might have done, given the opportunity to function in
hypertext?

Final reflection - does the modern concept of hypertext *change* the
function of the footnote, or merely expand on a function already used
without being recognized?

S. C. Stafford

unread,
Jun 8, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/8/96
to

U55...@uic.edu (Arthur Wohlwill) wrote:

>In article <4p8klk$6...@zap.io.org> bu...@zap.io.org (William Denton) writes:
>>From: bu...@zap.io.org (William Denton)
>>Subject: Fiction with footnotes
>>Date: 7 Jun 1996 03:10:44 -0400

>>A while ago it occurred to me that a novel with footnotes could be


>>fairly interesting. The writer could explain obscure references, give
>>a bibliographic recommendation, follow a character for a few minutes
>>after she's left the room, crack wise, and so on.

>(stuff deleted)


>>If anyone knows of any other examples, I'd love to know. If there are
>>enough, or if anyone mails me with some, I'll summarize here.

>Larry Beinhart's(?) American Hero a novel in which the war in Iraq is
>scripted in Hollywood has many foonotes detailing relevant history.

>Arthur Wohlwill Adwo...@UIC.EDU

Also "Good Omens" by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett -- though these
mostly fall into the crack-wise category! ("She was in the middle of
a city*" "*Nominally a city. It was the size of an English country
town, or, translated into American terms, a shopping mall.")

Susan


Matt Austern

unread,
Jun 9, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/9/96
to

> But what I was wondering was whether anything has been written which
> *integrates* the footnote into the narrative flow. I can imagine at least
> two ways this might be done. One is to tell some other part of the story -
> either something happening at the same time, or at a different time, which
> either augments the narrative or provides some sort of counter narrative.

It's been done. The best example I can think of is Pale Fire, by
Vladimir Nabokov: it's a novel in the form of an extensively footnoted
poem.

Mel Wilson

unread,
Jun 9, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/9/96
to

In article <4pa798$p...@mtinsc01-mgt.ops.worldnet.att.net>,

ke...@worldnet.att.net wrote:
>bu...@zap.io.org (William Denton) wrote:
>>A while ago it occurred to me that a novel with footnotes could be
>>fairly interesting. [ ... ]

>The Third Policeman, Flann O'Brien

and one in "The Poor Mouth".

Steve Brock

unread,
Jun 9, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/9/96
to

In article <ckendall.2...@UIC.EDU>,


And then there's the novel called "Book," where the footnotes revolt and
take over the rest of the text. -- Steve

xan...@kublikan.edu

unread,
Jun 9, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/9/96
to

In article <4pf8nf$2...@peabody.colorado.edu>, br...@ucsub.Colorado.EDU
(Steve Brock) wrote:

>
> And then there's the novel called "Book," where the footnotes revolt and
> take over the rest of the text. -- Steve

Author?

Chris Mayfield

unread,
Jun 10, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/10/96
to

bu...@zap.io.org (William Denton) wrote:
>A while ago it occurred to me that a novel with footnotes could be
>fairly interesting. The writer could explain obscure references, give
>a bibliographic recommendation, follow a character for a few minutes
>after she's left the room, crack wise, and so on.

>If anyone knows of any other examples, I'd love to know. If there are


>enough, or if anyone mails me with some, I'll summarize here.

Though I haven't read it yet, Flann O'Brien's "The Third Policeman"
includes footnotes (and since it's Flann O'Brien, I can't imagine him
not using them to "crack wise"). Also, much of David Jones' poetry
contains extensive footnotes, such as "The Anathemata." Someone once
said it was like we was trying to write "Pilgrim's Progress" and the
definitive analysis of it at the same time.

Chris

Adam Lou Stephanides

unread,
Jun 10, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/10/96
to

xan...@kublikan.edu writes:

>But what I was wondering was whether anything has been written which
>*integrates* the footnote into the narrative flow. I can imagine at least
>two ways this might be done. One is to tell some other part of the story -
>either something happening at the same time, or at a different time, which
>either augments the narrative or provides some sort of counter narrative.

A number of the footnotes in _Infinite Jest_ are integrated into the
narrative flow. They consist of conversations between main characters,
which provide important information; and I often saw no reason for
excluding them from the main body of the text (except to punish readers
who ignore the footnotes). In a couple of cases, the "footnotes"
actually refer back to nothing in the main text; i. e. the main text
contains only a superscripted numeral on an otherwise blank line.

--Adam

Adam Lou Stephanides

unread,
Jun 10, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/10/96
to

One of the chapters of _Finnegans Wake_ contains not only
footnotes but left and right marginalia as well. The chapter
"is about" the children of HCE and ALP studying their
lessons, and the footnotes contain the comments of the
daughter Issy, as the marginalia contain those of the two
sons.

--Adam

William Denton

unread,
Jun 10, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/10/96
to

<xan...@kublikan.edu> wrote:

: But what I was wondering was whether anything has been written which

: *integrates* the footnote into the narrative flow. I can imagine at
: least two ways this might be done. One is to tell some other part of the
: story - either something happening at the same time, or at a different
: time, which either augments the narrative or provides some sort of
: counter narrative.

Most writers like to jump back and forth when it's important to show two
thing happening at once, at least in suspense novels, since it's so good
at heightening the tension. Footnotes could work well for that, though,
or for flashbacks/flashforwards - the literary equivalent of a rippling
screen and the hero's face and voice fading out as a dogfight over Macho
Grande fades in?

Have you ever read Brian Fawcett's Cambodia: Stories for People Who Find
Television Too Slow? It's a book with what could count as the most
enormous footnote ever. The top two thirds of each page is one continuous
story, and the bottom third is an essay about the Khmer Rouge and other
things. It's been a while since I read it, so I don't remember too well,
but I highly recommend it.

: The other thing that flashed on me was our old friend, hypertext. In a


: sense, Choose Your Own Adventure Books are hypertextural, and the two or
: three choices facing the reader are something like footnotes. I can
: imagine a novel which uses footnotes to permit the reader to move around
: the book in other than mere page order - sort of an alternative
: structure of the same novel - ,

Julio Cortazar's Hopscotch is like that. You can either read the chapters
in order or use the alternate ordering he provides. (I have it, but I
still haven't tackled it, in either way. I wonder if anyone has ever
ignored him and made up their own random chapter ordering.)

: or sends the reader ahead to some other event which can be read before


: returning to the page of departure. For that matter, the footnote
: might send the reader *back* to something previously read, so that he
: can re-read it in light of what he has learned.

I don't think this is footnoting so much as cross-referencing, which would
also be something interesting to do in a novel. The Quality Paperback
Book Club just sent me a copy of the new Catholic catechism (by accident),
and it's extensively cross-referenced. Those bad mysteries where the
detective gathers everyone in a room and expounds for ten pages,
explaining every single detail of the case, could use this. "'And the
knife that Mrs. Cholmondley-Featherstonehaugh found?'" (Margin says: "See
p. 63.") "'This was none other than the Mayan artifact unearthed by Herr
Professor Doktor Walter Groheim!'" (Margin says: "See p. 32.") "'No!'
cried the dainty Elizabeth Gentlewoman, fainting into the strong arms of
Bryce Manly."

: Final reflection - does the modern concept of hypertext *change* the

: function of the footnote, or merely expand on a function already used
: without being recognized?

Good question. If you see the footnote as just a footnote, offering a few
words of explanation or reference that don't fit in the main text, then
I'd say no. You jump to the footnote, then you jump back. If you expand
the function of the footnote, as we've been talking about, hypertext
becomes much more useful, but I think you could still do all the same
things on paper. (I.e., using the footnote for cross-referencing,
defining a term and pointing to the part of the text concerned with that
idea, etc.)

But what if you let other people footnote your work? Maybe this is where
hypertext invokes Footnotes: The Next Generation.

This got me to wondering if there are any books about footnotes. I
searched at www.amazon.com and found:

| The Art of the Footnote : The Intelligent Student's Guide to the Art and
| Science of Annotating Texts
| Francis A. Burkle-Young , Saundra Rose Maley
| Hardcover, $38.50
| Published by Univ Pr of Amer
| Publication date: June 1996
| ISBN: 0761803475

It says it's not yet published.

A.J. Norman

unread,
Jun 11, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/11/96
to

In article <4p97pj$6...@morrow.stanford.edu>,

Francis Muir <fra...@pangea.Stanford.EDU> wrote:
> Thomas Love Peacock has footnotes in his novels -- I have put it
> down to the fact that he was autodidact and liked to shew off some
> of his more obscure literary knowledge. I cannot remember off
> hand, but I'm farly certain that some later critical editions of
> Peacock's novels -- Garnett? -- have footnotes to the footnotes,
> which makes for a copy editor's nightmare.

De Quincey is another writer from the same era who was fond of the odd
footnote (some of them large enough to need a page of their own), though
whether he wrote fiction is debatable. Nicholson Baker's first two
books (before he turned into a tedious high-brow porn merchant) have
similarly huge footnotes. And "Tristram Shandy" might be considered to
consist mainly of footnotes, even though most of them are in the main
body of the text.

Peacock's literary allusions are sometimes still obscure - he liked to
quote chunks of Latin from memory with no reference to the author.

--
Andrew Norman, Leicester, England 11/06/96
n...@le.ac.uk, http://www.engg.le.ac.uk/staff/Andrew.Norman/

Shabari Kumar

unread,
Jun 11, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/11/96
to

On 10 Jun 1996, Chris Mayfield wrote:

> bu...@zap.io.org (William Denton) wrote:
> >A while ago it occurred to me that a novel with footnotes could be
> >fairly interesting. The writer could explain obscure references, give
> >a bibliographic recommendation, follow a character for a few minutes
> >after she's left the room, crack wise, and so on.
>
> >If anyone knows of any other examples, I'd love to know. If there are
> >enough, or if anyone mails me with some, I'll summarize here.

Kiss of the Spiderwoman is full of footnotes, many of them psychological
analysis of homosexual behavior. Another book which uses not a footnote
but a continuous other level of commentary is "Cambodia: a novel for
people who find tv too slow" (I might be getting the title slightly
wrong). It's very interesting novel about having so much privilege and at
the same time wanting to be moral.

Francis Muir

unread,
Jun 11, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/11/96
to

A.J. Norman writes:

Francis Muir writes:

Thomas Love Peacock has footnotes in his novels -- I have
put it down to the fact that he was autodidact and liked to
shew off some of his more obscure literary knowledge.

Peacock's literary allusions are sometimes still obscure - he liked

to quote chunks of Latin from memory with no reference to the author.

Examples?

Fido

Dawn M. Rutherford

unread,
Jun 11, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/11/96
to

On 9 Jun 1996, Steve Brock wrote:
>
> And then there's the novel called "Book," where the footnotes revolt and
> take over the rest of the text. -- Steve

Is this the one?

AUTHOR: Grudin, Robert.
TITLE: Book :
a novel /
PLACE: New York :
PUBLISHER: Penguin Books,
YEAR: 1993 1992
PUB TYPE: Book
FORMAT: xv, 251 p. ; 20 cm.
ISBN: 0140231137 (pbk.)
SUBJECT: Universities and colleges -- Faculty -- Fiction.
English literature -- History and criticism -- Fiction.

Jennifer A. Dropkin

unread,
Jun 11, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/11/96
to

William Denton wrote:
>
> <xan...@kublikan.edu> wrote:
>
> [a discussion of footnotes, hypertext, and narrative flow snipped away]

Milorad Pavic doesn't use footnotes (or hypertext, but maybe he has
plans) in *The Dictionary of the Khazars,* but if you want to read the
book, you'll have to jump around some: the book is a collection of three
dictionaries of the Khazars--the Jewish, the Islamic, and the
Christian--each of which explain the conversion of the Khazars to
those respective faiths. The dictionaries contain one base story and
three related stories through time about attempts to reconstruct the
original dictionary (but there are two: the Gold Dictionary is the
poisoned one; the Silver Dictionary will tell you at what point in the
reading of the Gold you will die.) There are auxiliary stories that go
nowhere. How you encounter each story is up to you: the dictionary is
just that, entries with text, and referrals to other entries. Pavic does
use one footnote (that I recall; there might be others), but not for
narrative purposes: he explains that his book has two editions, the
female and the male, and he tells you where to find the difference. I
read the male edition and glanced at the female edition--but I didn't get
it, anyway.--Jennifer

Kate

unread,
Jun 11, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/11/96
to

Manuel Puig's *Kiss of the Spider Woman* makes great use of footnotes,
but be warned, they are quite long.

Ken MacIver

unread,
Jun 12, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/12/96
to

>Is this the one?


It is a fun read!

ken


Margaret Martin Gardiner

unread,
Jun 12, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/12/96
to

William Denton writes:
A while ago it occurred to me that a novel with footnotes could be
fairly interesting. The writer could explain obscure references, give
a bibliographic recommendation, follow a character for a few minutes
after she's left the room, crack wise, and so on.

I've only come across a couple of writers that use them, and both were


working historically: Robert Anton Wilson's Historical Illuminatus
trilogy, and George MacDonald Fraser's Flashman books. Fraser often
uses footnotes (rather, endnotes) to give biographical sketches of
real people Flashy encounters.

If anyone knows of any other examples, I'd love to know. If there are


enough, or if anyone mails me with some, I'll summarize here.


Another example is The Journal of Hildegard of Bingen by
Barbara Lachman. It also includes a glossary of liturgical terms for
the twelfth century and a bibliography.

Margaret Martin Gardiner


Steve Brock

unread,
Jun 12, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/12/96
to

In article <Pine.SGI.3.91.960611...@alexia.lis.uiuc.edu>,


That's the one.

William Denton

unread,
Jun 12, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/12/96
to

Thanks to everyone who posted or mailed me about this. There were a
lot more titles mentioned than I'd expected, and here's a summary
(with the odd comment):

Fiction with Footnotes
----------------------

o But What of Earth?, Piers Anthony
o The Mezzanine, Nicholson Baker (so "he can delve more deeply into
his odd little obsessions")
o Gospel, Winton Barnhardt (footnotes discuss the biblical scolarship
behind the characters' adventures)
o American Hero, Larry Beinhart (unsure of name)
o James Branch Cabell (no titles suggested)
o Thomas de Quincey (no titles suggested)
o The Alexandria Quartet, Lawrence Durrell
o The Flashman books, George MacDonald Fraser (historical)
o Book, Robert Grudin (footnotes take over the novel)
o Peter B. Kyne (no titles suggested)
o The Journal of Hildegard of Bingen, Barbara Lachman
o Out of the Silent Planet, C.S. Lewis (perhaps only one footnote?)
o The Third Policeman & The Poor Mouth, Flann O'Brien
o Lake of the Wood, Tim O'Brien
o Some of Thomas Love Peacock's novels (some critical editions
have footnotes to the footnotes)
o The Scottish Chiefs, Jane Porter (historical)
o Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
o The Discworld series, Terry Pratchett
o Kiss of the Spiderwoman, Manuel Puig
o The Ice Shirt & Fathers and Crows, William T. Vollman
o Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace
o The Historical Illuminatus Trilogy, Robert Anton Wilson


Other
-----

o "The Wasteland," T.S. Eliot
o Cambodia: Stories for People Who Find Television Too Slow, Brian
Fawcett (one enormous footnote that takes up one-third of each page)
o "The Anathemata," David Jones (poetry)
o Pale Fire, Vladimir Nabokov (analysis of a poem, referenced by line)
o "A Garland of Ibids," in A Subtreasury of American Humor, Frank
Sullivan (parody of Van Wyck Brooks)

o Some people mentioned critical editions of books, including Vladimir
Nabokov's Lolita.


About Footnotes
---------------

o The Art of the Footnote : The Intelligent Student's Guide to the Art
and Science of Annotating Texts, Francis A. Burkle-Young, Saundra
Rose Maley, ISBN: 0761803475 (new book)

Kate

unread,
Jun 12, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/12/96
to

Manuel Puig's *Kiss of the Spider Woman* has some great footnotes.
Warning--they are quite long.

Alex Slotkin

unread,
Jun 13, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/13/96
to

> William Denton writes:
> A while ago it occurred to me that a novel with footnotes could be
> fairly interesting. The writer could explain obscure references, give
> a bibliographic recommendation, follow a character for a few minutes
> after she's left the room, crack wise, and so on.
[stuff deleted]
> If anyone knows of any other examples, I'd love to know. If there are
> enough, or if anyone mails me with some, I'll summarize here.

Garrison Keillor uses this technique quite extensively throughout _Lake
Wobegon Days_. There's even a chapter with a single footnote that runs
continuously along the bottom of each and every page.

--
::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
Alex Slotkin :: University of Texas at Austin :: apsl...@mail.utexas.edu
::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
"The only difference between me and a madman is that I am not mad." - Dali

Samuel Matsushima

unread,
Jun 13, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/13/96
to

Margaret Martin Gardiner wrote:
>
> William Denton writes:
> A while ago it occurred to me that a novel with footnotes could be
> fairly interesting. The writer could explain obscure references, give
> a bibliographic recommendation, follow a character for a few minutes
> after she's left the room, crack wise, and so on.
>
> I've only come across a couple of writers that use them, and both were
> working historically: Robert Anton Wilson's Historical Illuminatus
> trilogy, and George MacDonald Fraser's Flashman books. Fraser often
> uses footnotes (rather, endnotes) to give biographical sketches of
> real people Flashy encounters.
>
> If anyone knows of any other examples, I'd love to know. If there are
> enough, or if anyone mails me with some, I'll summarize here.
>
> Another example is The Journal of Hildegard of Bingen by
> Barbara Lachman. It also includes a glossary of liturgical terms for
> the twelfth century and a bibliography.
>
> Margaret Martin Gardiner

Nicholson Baker wrote a very funny novel with numerous footnotes, called
"Mezzanine".


--
Warmly

Samuel

Samuel S. Matsushima, Associate Lecturer Tel: +61(2)385-3975
School of Computer Science & Engineering Fax: +61(2)385-1813
The University of New South Wales sam...@cse.unsw.edu.au
Sydney, NSW 2052 AUSTRALIA http://www.cse.unsw.edu.au/~samuelm/
Virtue is bold, and goodness never fearful. - W.S.

Roy Gordon

unread,
Jun 13, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/13/96
to

> Check out Manuel Puig's _Kiss of the Spiderwoman_
> Interesting novel, run-of-the-mill film.

Excellent novel and also a multi-layered excellent film. William Hurt
won best actor (deservedly, imo) for his performance.

Interesting to compare the book with the movie as the book is predominantly
dialogue.

-- roy

Bela Lugusi

unread,
Jun 14, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/14/96
to

Jorge L Borges uses footnotes in his ficciones: Three versions of Judas

Andrew Thall

unread,
Jun 14, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/14/96
to

In Tolkien's _Lord of the Rings_, there was a footnote...a reference to
an ancient king mentioned was noted as

1
Probably Arvedui II.

In the wicked parody _Bored of the Rings_, this became

1
Either Arglebargle IV or somebody else.

Had me splitting my sides.

--Andrew.
--
"I shall drink beer and eat bread in the House of Life."

Sibylle Dussy

unread,
Jun 14, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/14/96
to

>William Denton writes:
>A while ago it occurred to me that a novel with footnotes could be
>fairly interesting. The writer could explain obscure references, give
>a bibliographic recommendation, follow a character for a few minutes
>after she's left the room, crack wise, and so on.

There is an English writer called Terry Pratchett who has made himself
quite a reputation for his funny footnotes. He writes fantasy comedies.
His footnotes belong to his style, they don't necessarily explain but
make you smile.

In case you are interested, look out for the "Discworld" series. However,
it has to be mentioned that Pratchett's style is not universally liked.
Some critics (what do they know!) claim that he's an awful author, but
most readers with a funny bone just love him.

Enjoy!

Sibylle

E J M Duggan

unread,
Jun 15, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/15/96
to

Hey guys!

I can't believe we all forgot:

Roland Barthes _S\Z_

(well, it _kinda_ fits)

Eddie Duggan

+===========================================================================+
| <E.Du...@uea.ac.uk> |
| * T H E B I G H O U S E O F K N O W L E D G E * |
| University College, Suffolk |
| (an accredited College of the University of East Anglia) |
| Rope Walk, Ipswich, Suffolk IP4 1LT UK +44(0)1473 296673 |
+===========================================================================+
DISCLAIMER: The views expressed above are my views and do not necessarily
represent the view of _either_ University College, Suffolk _or_ The Univers-
ity of East Anglia. Equally, the views of the aforesaid institutions are
their views and do not necessarily represent _my_ view. OK? DISCLAIMER ENDS.
+===========================================================================+

E J M Duggan

unread,
Jun 15, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/15/96
to

On 13 Jun 1996, Roy Gordon wrote:

> > Check out Manuel Puig's _Kiss of the Spiderwoman_
> > Interesting novel, run-of-the-mill film.
>
> Excellent novel and also a multi-layered excellent film. William Hurt
> won best actor (deservedly, imo) for his performance.

Not nearly as multi-layered as the novel though.
There are a number of competing discourses in the novel---the
over-arching narrative of the two men, the stories they tell each other
(real, fictional) and the stories-within-the stories (as well as the
re;lation of the stories to the protagonists' relationship) AND THEN
there is the footnotes---another sort of 'contested' area: somethimnes
the note tale over the page completely!
To my mind, the novel is challenging: it requires the reader _to thinak
about_ ther reading process: eg HOW DOES ONE read this novel is a real
and valid question.

The film, on the other hand, seems to be straightforward, unproblematic
Hollywood pap. Where is the tension between voices at the level of
_form_ ? (I concede there is some multidiscursive _content_, but that is
hardly of the same degree as in the novel)


> Interesting to compare the book with the movie as the book is predominantly
> dialogue.

Yes, fascinating to compare: there are some interesting discussions to be
had but, imo, the novel is leagues ahead of the film despite whatever
saving graces can be found in Babenco's cine-text.

Josephine Schaffer

unread,
Jun 16, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/16/96
to

Piers Anthony wrote a book, "But what of Earth?" which consists
of the manuscript for a science fiction story he had submitted
for publication and the comments by the various editiors who
read it. The editors commentary appear as footnotes. It is an
amusing look at the publishing industry.

--
Petersburg Public Library (804) 733-2393
Rodof Sholom Branch
1865 S. Sycamore Street e-mail: jsch...@leo.vsla.edu
Petersburg, VA 23803

Dick Eney

unread,
Jun 19, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/19/96
to

S. C. Stafford <sus...@awod.com> wrote:
>U55...@uic.edu (Arthur Wohlwill) wrote:
>
>>In article <4p8klk$6...@zap.io.org> bu...@zap.io.org (William Denton) writes:
>>>From: bu...@zap.io.org (William Denton)
>>>Subject: Fiction with footnotes
>>>Date: 7 Jun 1996 03:10:44 -0400

>
>>>A while ago it occurred to me that a novel with footnotes could be
>>>fairly interesting. The writer could explain obscure references, give
>>>a bibliographic recommendation, follow a character for a few minutes
>>>after she's left the room, crack wise, and so on.
>
(stuff deleted)
>
>Also "Good Omens" by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett -- though these
>mostly fall into the crack-wise category! ("She was in the middle of
>a city*" "*Nominally a city. It was the size of an English country
>town, or, translated into American terms, a shopping mall.")
>
>Susan

And virtually all of the other books (20+) by Terry Pratchett.
Well worth reading.

-- Tamar (sharing account dick...@access.digex.net)

Alexander M. Stroup

unread,
Jun 19, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/19/96
to

> >>>A while ago it occurred to me that a novel with footnotes could be
> >>>fairly interesting. The writer could explain obscure references, give
> >>>a bibliographic recommendation, follow a character for a few minutes
> >>>after she's left the room, crack wise, and so on.


In Battlefield Earth, L. Ron Hubbard uses footnotes to go off on
tangential stories with little (if any) direct affect on the storyline.
The occassional footnote appeared in the Mission Earth dekology. In my
opinion though these rarely added anything of value (though the Mission
Earth series is total trash so that could be expected).

------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Alexander Stroup Senior, Department of History, UW
ale...@u.washington.edu http://weber.u.washington.edu/~alexman


William Denton

unread,
Jun 20, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/20/96
to

paul ilechko <pa...@superlink.net> wrote:

: It doesn't work - Chapters 1 to 56 tell the whole story, read
: sequentially. Chapters 57 to 155 are interspersable at specific points
: within the book to add more information/digressions, but the main
: chapters remain in sequence.

Very interesting, I didn't know that. So these almost 100 extra chapters
are actually really big footnotes, and you can either read them or not.
(I'm a little disappointed, though, I'd thought the same texts worked in
two different orderings. Oh well.) I'm going to have to tackle it soon.
What path did you take when you read it?