Metafiction Questions and Answers

Start Your Free Trial

According to Patricia Waugh, metafictional writers explore the relationship between fiction and reality whereby the writers want to convey fictional characters that only exist in the text, the text being their only reality. The reality of the fictional world is a linguistic reality only, which contrasts with classic fiction in which fiction represents reality. In case of metafiction, the real world only exists outside the text. There are metafictional texts that often include metafictional passages and fictional passages together. Metafiction is aware of itself as fiction, is self-conscious, narcissistic. You have overt forms of narcissism, but also covert forms of narcissism, the latter being more common. Linda Hutcheon and Waugh say that 'metafiction draws attention to the writer’s process of creating discursive frames', drawing attention to the storytelling in the tales. It puts forward story-telling as a way for human beings to make sense of reality, to the fact that we try to make sense of reality (or versions of reality) by creating stories. Given the assertion that metafiction draws attention to the writer’s process of creating discursive frames, what is meant by this phrase, particularly the phrase "discursive frames?" 

Expert Answers info

Walter Fischer eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2013

write4,084 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Business

While the literary concept known as “metafiction” has antecedents that go back centuries, it found its greatest manifestation during the turbulent period of the 1960s and 1970s.  Such authors as Kurt Vonnegut, William Styron and John Barth wrote popular works of experimental fiction, particularly Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five, Barth's collection of short stories Lost in the Funhouse, and Styron’s Sophie’s Choice, that reflected the irony, self-awareness, and unconventional narrative structure common to many such works of metafiction.  An element common to writings categorized as metafiction would be the discursive style to which Patricia Waugh referred in her 1984 study Metafiction: The Theory and Practice of Self-Conscious Fiction.  Waugh’s argued that “contemporary metafictional writing is both a response and a contribution to an even more thoroughgoing sense that reality or history are provisional; no longer a world of external verities but a series of constructions, artifices, impermanent structures.”  The stories told employing this literary device are born from a deep grasp of realities’ dark undercurrents.  In the cases, for example, of Slaughterhouse Five and Sophie’s Choice , the horrors of World War II – specifically, the firebombing of the German city of Dresden and the Holocaust respectively – provide the emotional and historical gravity that form the basis for the almost surrealistic approach each author uses in conveying the emotional impact of their protagonists’ experiences.  In both cases, as in others, the narrative jumps about in time rather than taking a more conventional,...

(The entire section contains 487 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now


Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Ask a Question

Additional Links