I’ve heard a bit of talk about metafiction lately and to be honest I wasn’t sure what it was. The dictionary defines it as; fiction that discusses, describes, or analyses a work of fiction or the conventions of fiction. That didn’t really help me with understanding the concept in greater detail.
After further investigations I found the most common types of metafiction and some examples of each one;
- A novel about a writer creating a story (A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man).
- A novel about a reader reading a novel (The Princess Bride)
- A novel which features itself as its own prop or McGuffin (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)
- A novel within the novel (The Man in the High Castle, Sophie’s WorldorThe Princess Bride).
- A novel wherein the author (not merely the narrator) is a character (Breakfast of Championsor Slaughterhouse Five)
- A non-linear novel, which can be read in any order other than from beginning to end (Finnegans Wake).
- Merging characters or elements from diverse works of fiction into a new fictional scenario (The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen)
There are many more scenarios of metafiction out there and the more you think about it the more books start to fit.
I just though I would give some examples so you can better understand metafiction too. If you have some interesting examples of metafiction please feel free to let me know.