"The creative process ... was slightly disastrous."
May 2, 2015 4:15 PM Subscribe
The Whole Family [(1908; Wikipedia)] is a bit of an oddity - a 'shared-world' by twelve prominent authors, each focusing on an individual member of an extended New England upper class family. William Dean Howells sets up the framework in the opening chapter ... [I]n the second story, Mary Wilkins Freeman overturns the whole table with a wonderfully feminist reinterpretation of a secondary character. The rest of the book is a scramble to put the apples back in the cart ...In "5 Goodies from Gutenberg," Jared Shurin revisits a round-robin novel he reviewed in more detail last summer at Pornokitsch, but it's not the only classic collaborative fiction available online.
Additional round-robin / shared-world works of fiction available at Gutenberg, the Internet Archive, or the Open Library:
- Mugby Junction (1866; Wikipedia) by Charles Dickens, Andrew Halliday, Charles Collins, Hesba Stretton, and Amelia B. Edwards (previously) is a set of "collaborative 'railway' stories" described in a recent Guardian review.
- The Fate of Fenella (1892; Wikipedia) by Helen Mathers, Arthur Conan Doyle, Justin H. McCarthy M.P., Mary Crommelin, Frances Eleanor Trollope, F. C. Phillips, "Rita," Bram Stoker, Joseph Hatton, Florence Marryat, Mrs. Lovett Cameron, Frank Danby, Mrs. Edward Kennard, Arthur A'Beckett, Richard Dowling, Jean Middlemass, Mrs. Hungerford, Clement Scott, Clo. Graves, G. Manville Fenn, H. W. Lucy, "Tasma," Adeline Sergeant, and F. Anstey did not fare well in a contemporary Spectator review, worth reading in itself.
- The Detection Club (Wikipedia), including Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Freeman Wills Crofts, Anthony Berkeley and others, co-wrote several round-robin novels, including The Floating Admiral (1931; Wikipedia; The Guardian) and Ask a Policeman (1933). In the latter novel, each author writes for another participant's established character.
- Naked Came the Stranger (1969; Wikipedia; previously) achieved some notoriety as a literary stunt. Nineteen men and five women, all journalists at Newsday, each wrote one chapter in this intentionally awful novel to produce a "work of no redeeming social value" (New York Times).
- The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction supplies a history of shared worlds in SF.
- The TVTropes entry for Round Robin provides an overview of the format that leads up to the present time.
- The Center for the Book in the Library of Congress has published an illustrated "Exquisite Corpse Adventure" featuring authors such as Susan Cooper, Gregory Maguire, and Lemony Snicket.
- And previously on Metafilter, a short story written by many well-known contemporary authors.
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