To read Robert Coover's recent online publication, "Literary Hypertext: The Passing of the Golden Age," one must begin
eight years earlier with Coover's essay in The New York Times,
"The End of Books." At that time, Coover predicted an end to print and the beginning of a
new form of writing exemplified by hypertext.
Early fascination with hypertext, its potential to alter understandings of linearity
in writing and its play with space and linking, led many to herald the end of the book and the
beginning of something new. Coover, too, joined the call.
The argument drew upon Derrida's remark in Of Grammatology: "The end of linear writing is indeed the end of the
book" (86). Before the Web made its mark (Coover wrote his article two years before
graphic based browsers hit the market and desktops across
the country), hypertext enthusiasts saw the end of the book in poststructuralist
works like Derrida's as well as in texts by computer advocates like
Ted Nelson, whose
Computer Lib/Dream Machines attempted to replicate the non-linear structure
of hypertext in the print medium by juxtaposing several lines of thought at once.