Welcome to the Library of Allexamina, Forth-Wander of the Modern Word!

The heart of The Modern Word is the Omphalos, the center of the web where all umbilical chords resolve. Keystone of the Delphic Oracle, this page is the middle sea of the keyboard, where all the shifts and bouts of your naval farce can return and find safe re-harbor...

Site Information Menu

Site Map
Links to all the author pages and subsections under one roof.

About Us
Information on our staff, artists, and Board of Directors.

Literary Advisory Board
The Modern Word is guided by a panel of luminaries in the fields of literature, academia, and publishing.

Editor’s Biography
An essay by the Editorial Director on why he began this site in 1995.

The homepage for The Modern Word’s newsletter. You can subscribe here, and browse past issues of Spiral-Bound.

An archive of major reviews that have appeared on The Modern Word.

The Sideshow
Reviews of short fiction from anthologies and magazines.

Monthly columns by Michael Cisco, Andrew F. Duncan, Amy Rosenberg, and the occasional guest.

Links to various interviews conducted by The Modern Word.

Small Press Spotlight
Featured independent presses, with publisher interviews and selected titles.

An archive of Modern Word contests.

Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions about The Modern Word.

Submission Guidelines
Guidelines for making contributions to The Modern Word such as reviews, academic papers, and Scriptorium pages.

External Links
Links to various sites on literature, hyperfiction, and postmodernism.

Introduction to The Modern Word

WELCOME TO THE MODERN WORD, the Web’s largest site devoted to exploring twentieth-century experimental literature! My name is Allen Ruch – though I generally go by my nickname of the Quail – and I have the pleasure to be the site’s Editorial Director, but for this section you can think of me as your tour guide.
The Modern Word is a large site, and one that’s been through many changes since its inception. It began in 1995 as The Libyrinth, a portmanteau word coined to represent the two common themes I felt ran through much modern literature – the Library and the Labyrinth. The Library, symbolic of a multitudinous cross-referencing of resources; and the Labyrinth, symbolic of a prose style that employs many winding paths through a shifting veil of reality. Allusive and Elusive: The Libyrinth. (I hope you like the word – the stress is on the first “LIE,” like any good Irishman will tell you – because we reJoyce in that typo worldplay ’round hearasay.)
After five years of growing as the Libyrinth, the site was re-dedicated in May 2000 as The Modern Word, its borders greatly expanded but dedicated to the same goal – to celebrate and explore the works of these amazing authors, from the past metamorphoses of Kafka to the Ecos of the future. Which may lead you to ask, “So how do you go about selecting these writers? Do their agents give you fast cars and promise to say nice things about you in the Village Voice?”

WELL, A LAMBORGHINI would be nice, but that’s not how we choose our authors. Authors are reviewed for inclusion by our Literary Advisory Board, who work closely with the Editorial Director to ensure a quality slate of authors who meet our “libyrinthian” standards. And though the writers featured here are primarily considered “postmodern,” we try not to limit our selection to any specific literary school, circle, or movement. Essentially, for an author to be considered for the site, his or her writing should not only be of sufficient literary quality, but significantly touch upon one or more of the following elements:
1. A use of language that calls upon the reader to break through the barriers of normal syntax and linguistics, acting as an invitation to probe the text and explore the space beyond the words themselves.
2. A tendency to allow consensual reality to relax or even dissolve; this may range from occasional hallucinatory prose to magical realism to outright fantasy.
3. A density of style that is multi-layered with allusions to both the body of work itself and the vast and eternal library of work beyond its pages – an awareness of the eternal human dialogue, so to speak.
James Joyce was the first author to be featured, followed by Borges, Gabriel García Márquez, Umberto Eco, Thomas Pynchon, Samuel Beckett and Franz Kafka. Future authors under consideration include William Faulkner, Marcel Proust, Virginia Woolf, and many others. We are also considering the addition of poets and playwrights such as Octavio Paz, T.S. Eliot, and Tom Stoppard, to name a few.

THOUGH THE SITE MAY LOOK SPRAWLINGLY large, getting around The Modern Word is actually quite easy. It’s organized into three sections, with the Rotunda serving as a literary homepage and welcome mat.
The Rotunda may be accessed by clicking on the square “The Modern Word” button in the upper left corner of every page. It holds links into the site, a set of featured external links, summaries of new additions, a search engine, registration for our newsletter Spiral-Bound, and the Daily Muse, a literary quote, trivia question, or word that changes daily.
The Libyrinth is the main body of The Modern Word, and may be accessed by clicking the “Author” button at the top of every page. The Libyrinth holds the major author sites, such as Macondo, our Gabriel García Márquez site. It also holds the Scriptorium, an index of single-page sites on related authors.
The Omphalos is the core of the Libyrinth, an extended section of “Site Information.” As Stephen Dedalus thinks in Ulysses, “Gaze into your omphalos . . . Put me on to Edenville. Aleph, alpha: nought, nought, one.” A simple click on the ubiquitous Spinning Spiral will place that phone call for you, or you can simply click the “Site Information” button.

Enjoy your stay, and feel free to explore!