metafiction, aesthetics, reader response
According the Oxford English Dictionary, metafiction is ‘fiction in which the author self-consciously alludes to the artificiality or literariness of a work by parodying or departing from novelistic conventions…and narrative techniques.’ In short, metafiction announces itself as a textual artifact and examines the very nature of fiction. Metafiction has been defined as such, but I seek the effect of the text upon the act of reading and the reader: into what space is the reader initiated when the boundaries between author-text-reader become dismantled or confused? What does the act of reading become, beyond a mere analytic exercise? I am searching for the beauty of metafiction: is there a specific aesthetic quality to metafiction? How does the importance of reading change with the recognition of a text as metafiction? Furthermore, I seek to critique the acquired definition of metafiction: do all texts have an unspoken metafictional quality to them? This thesis is an exploration of these questions, driven by the examination of fictional and theoretical texts in conjunction with my own work.