This section opens strong with Vladimir Brljak's "The Books of Lost Tales: Tolkien as Metafictionist
," a theoretically sophisticated and thoroughly persuasive account of the form and function of the various framing devices that Tolkien uses, so Brljak argues, not so much to create the illusion of verisimilitude or depth, but to create awareness of the irretrievable referent that his fantastic "histories" have only mediated and remediated.
The issue starts with Vladimir Brijak's "The Book of Lost Tales: Tolkien as Metafictionist
," demonstrating the value of taking Tolkien's metafictional framing strategies--most notably the Red Book of Westmarch, with its evolution through various translators, redactors, narratizers, annotators, and copiers--seriously as a literary device linking to techniques used in both Beowulf and postmodern fiction.
The debate about whether he was a postmodernist, metafictionist
or, his favorite term, surfictionist, is ongoing.
Ironically for the metafictionist
readers of Nabokov it's a moral intent--very much like the Popean moralist John Shade in Pale Fire--Nabokov believes in the functionality or utility of art, even his own art: "far from having been a frivolous firebird, I was a rigid moralist kicking sin, cuffing stupidity, ridiculing the vulgar and cruel--and assigning sovereign power to tenderness, talent, and pride.
He takes up A Month of Sundays (164-67) as a metafictionist
text, suggests how Updike becomes a historiographic metafictionist
in Memories of the Ford Administration (167-70), and shows how, from a postmodernist perspective, one might treat feminism, pastiche, and self-parody in Gertrude and Claudius and Seek My Face (170-76).
ALTHOUGH EVALD FLISAR established himself as perhaps the first Slovenian metafictionist
, the aptly titled collection Tales of Wandering draws more upon the tradition of W.
John Barth, probably the pre-eminent American metafictionist
of the contemporary period, is clearly aware that his metafictional work will alienate some readers when he quips only half ironically "Oh God comma I abhor self-consciousness" (1968.
Which is why it's so painful to watch David Foster Wallace's awkward attempt to transmogrify from arch metafictionist
to champion of Meaning.
Maltby must gloss over Barthelme the metafictionist
versus Pynchon the sentimental surrealist to subsume both under the crypto-Marxist flag of "a powerful source of resistance to the force of late capitalism's hegemonic discourses" (187).
We might conclude, in the manner of Harold Bloom, that in working through a southern "anxiety of influence" in The Floating Opera, Barth was able to free himself enough to become a metafictionist
and to affirm his lack of historical responsibility.
, it is often said, is more interested in literature than in life, composition to the exclusion of creation.
John Barth, widely considered to be the preeminent American metafictionist
, directly confronts issues of selfhood and authorship in his Lost in the Funhouse series.