Narcissistic Narrative:
the Metafictional Paradox

Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2013.

Narcissistic Narrative:
the Metafictional Paradox

Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1980; rpt. Routledge, 1984.
back to books

Narcisisstic Narrative: the Metafictional Paradox

Well before postmodernism became the buzz-word of academic discourse, novels betrayed symptoms of its infiltration: from Tristram Shandy through to The French Lieutenant's Woman , the novel has been a narcissistic genre, examining within itself its own nature as narrative and as language. Having placed this self-reflexive phenomenon in its historical context, this study then looks to the reader—and theories of reading—to explore the paradox created by metafiction: the reader is at one and the same time a co-creator of the self-reflexive text and yet distanced from it because of its very self-reflexivity. Using the works of a variety of European and North American literary cultures (including works by John Fowles, John Barth, Italo Calvino, Vladimir Nabokov, Paolo Volponi, Jorge Luis Borges, Alejo Carpentier, Leonard Cohen, and Hubert Aquin), Narcissistic Narrative explores--through the teachings of self-conscious fictions themselves--the implications of self-reflexivity for the theory of the novel itself.

Table of Contents


Chapter One:
Modes and Forms of Narrative Narcissism: Introduction of a Typology

Chapter Two:
Process and Product: The Implications of Metafiction for the Theory of the Novel as a Mimetic Genre

Chapter Three:
Thematizing Narrative Artifice: Parody, Allegory, and the Mise en Abyme

Chapter Four:
Freedom Through Artifice: The French Lieutenant's Woman

Chapter Five:
Actualizing Narrative Structures: Detective Plot, Fantasy, Games, and the Erotic

Chapter Six:
The Language of Fiction: Creating the Heterocosm of Fictive Referents

Chapter Seven:
The Theme of Linguistic Identity: La Macchina Mondiale

Chapter Eight:
Generative Word Play: The Outer Limits of the Novel Genre

Chapter Nine:
Composite Identity: The Reader, the Writer, the Critic

Conclusion and Speculations