Narcissistic Narrative: The Metafictional Paradox

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Wilfrid Laurier Univ. Press, Jan 1, 2006 - Literary Criticism - 188 pages
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Linda Hutcheon, in this original study, examines the modes, forms and techniques of narcissistic fiction, that is, fiction which includes within itself some sort of commentary on its own narrative and/or linguistic nature. Her analysis is further extended to discuss the implications of such a development for both the theory of the novel and reading theory.

Having placed this phenomenon in its historical context Linda Hutcheon uses the insights of various reader-response theories to explore the “paradox” created by metafiction: the reader is, at the same time, co-creator of the self-reflexive text and distanced from it because of its very self-reflexiveness. She illustrates her analysis through the works of novelists such as Fowles, Barth, Nabokov, Calvino, Borges, Carpentier, and Aquin. For the paperback edition of this important book a preface has been added which examines developments since first publication. Narcissistic Narrative was selected by Choice as one of the outstanding academic books for 1981–1982.


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Modes and Forms of Narrative Narcissism Introduction of a Typology
Process and Product The Implications of Metafiction for the Theory of the Novel as a Mimetic Genre
Thematizing Narrative Artifice Parody Allegory and the Mise En Abyme
Freedom Through Artifice The French Lieutenants Woman
Actualizing Narrative Structures Detective Plot Fantasy Games and the Erotic
The Language of Fiction Creating the Heterocosm of Fictive Referents
The Theme of Linguistic Identity La Macchina Mondiale
Generative Word Play The Outer Limits of the Novel Genre
Composite Identity The Reader the Writer the Critic
Conclusion and Speculations
Index of Subjects and Names

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Page 5 - ... art," of what he is reading; on the other, explicit demands are made upon him, as a co-creator, for intellectual and affective responses comparable in scope and intensity to those of his life experience. In fact, these responses are shown to be part of his life experience. In this light metafiction is less a departure from the mimetic novelistic tradition than a reworking of it. It is simplistic to say, as reviewers did for years, that this kind of narrative is sterile, that it has nothing to...

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About the author (2006)

Linda Hutcheon is Associate Professor of English at McMaster University.

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