Annotated Bibliography #5

Time for another update!

Cova, Florian and Amanda Garcia. “The Puzzle of Multiple Endings.” Journal of Aesthetics & Art Criticism, vol. 73, no. 2, 2015, pp. 105-114. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1111/jaac.12163. 

This article explores the apparent lack of multiple-ending fiction narratives. In particular, the article explores explanations for a scarcity of multiple-ending fiction and how interactive fiction presents an opportunity to developing these types of narratives. The article is presented in five sections. These sections seek to explore one driving question: “why do fictions tend to have one and only one ending?” (p. 105). Section one serves as an introduction and overview of the larger piece and it not worth dwelling on at this point.

Section two explores the tendency for narratives to arrive at a single conclusion, though it does cover examples of works that provide alternatives. For example, cut endings in film and literature are referenced, but there are not multiple ”equal” endings, where any of the endings are considered a viable end to the narrative, but merely alternatives that are not canon. Literary works that propose multiple resolutions that are all equally valid are much rarer, which raises the question as to why this is the case.

Section three looks at reasons for a lack of works with true, multiple endings. The first suggested reason relies on immersion. The idea of multiple realities, but all true could potentially break immersion, but other forms of immersion-rupture are far more common in narratives and exist frequently. The second proposed reason revolves around aesthetics and enjoyment of narrative or the desire of reward and resolution for the journey. Thirdly, it is proposed that material limitations may be the cause. How does one actually provide multiple, canon endings in a book? Limitation of form of narrative is likely a largely contributing factor to a scarcity of narratives with multiple endings. It is important to note there that visual novels are mentioned, which is important to my own work in my thesis.

The fourth and final section deal with the major concern of fictions with multiple endings; these fictions are generally role play based. When a fiction is presented, not in second person and not in role play form, them it moves in the direction of hypertext. This, of course, is interactive fiction. The authors rephrase their question at this point, however, asking “why is it that, in traditional fictions, there are so few multiple endings, since such things are perfectly possible and feasible” (p. 112). In the fifth and final section the conclusion is drawn that what we consider to be proper literature lacks multiple endings due to psychological considerations as to what is proper literature or not. In truth, if one expands the definition of literature to include video games, then multiple ending narratives are increasingly common.

Overall, this is great article for my proposal, and I have already thrown it into the quote log so I can mine more evidence from it. it also inspires me to consider how I wish to address multiple resolutions in my thesis itself, and I am already developing some thoughts on that.


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