Thursday 11 August 2011

Another Thursday evening...

And a lovely evening it is.  There's a cool breeze, the light through the leaves is dappled in the yard, and it almost feels like autumn is in the air, which makes me very, very happy.  I'm drinking regular orange pekoe tea, but it could easily be described as sweet and milky, just like in the British mysteries, where the relatives of the murder victims are always given a cup of "sweet, milky tea".  Which reminds me - I was going to write an entry which explores the differences between British mysteries and American mysteries (but that's for another time).

Tonight I want to talk about metafiction.  I was talking to a woman at work recently and she told me she was reading a great book, The French Lieutenant's Woman by John Fowles.  I haven't read that novel in years, but had to agree with her-I remember it being very good, and have decided to read it again soon.  We then talked about the way the author injects himself and the present into the story, and she said this was an example of metafiction.  I have heard this term before, but never really gave it much thought until just after this conversation.  I think a simple definition of this term is this:  metafiction is fiction about fiction, or fiction that is aware of itself.  So any time the author addresses the reader directly, or there is a story within a story, or a writer is a main character who may or may not be writing about what is happening in the story could be considered metafiction.  I got to thinking of some examples (and I looked it up on Wikipedia, too!).  My first thought was the scene in Jane Eyre when Jane proclaims, "Reader, I married him."  I think that would loosely fit into the parameters, although I believe that this was an isolated occurrence in that novel.  What about Angels and Insects by A.S. Byatt?  The governess writes a children's story that mirrors the situation she and the male character she loves are in.  And Margaret Atwood's The Blind Assassin.  Although I haven't read the whole novel, I recall that the main character is writing a story, too.  In Ian McEwan's Atonement, the main character becomes a writer and writes about the situations in her life that are described earlier in the book.  There are surely others, perhaps Paul Auster's New York Trilogy, especially The Locked Room, although it's been years since I've read those, too, so I can't be sure.  I was reading a children's picture book in preparation for a storytime this weekend, The Wonderful Book  by Leonid Gore.  It's the story of a book that is found in the forest by a bunny who thinks it's a house, a bear who thinks it's a hat, a family of mice who use it as a table, a fox who thinks it's a bed, and a worm who wants to eat it for lunch, but it is saved from this fate by a boy who finds it and recognizes it for what it truly is, a book to be read.  The forest creatures gather around to hear the boy read a story about a bunny, a bear, a family of mice, a fox, and a worm.  The boy is reading the book that we've just read!  That's pretty cool (and pretty "meta")!

I think "meta" is a term that could also be applied to film, a film that is aware of being a film.  "The Truman Show" is a movie about a guy who is the star of a reality show, although he doesn't know that his life really a TV show.  The film "Adaptation" is a film about the struggles a screenwriter faces while adapting a novel into a film, the same novel on which the film itself is based.  "Being John Malkovich" is also self-reflective (or is it self-reflexive?) in that John Malkovich plays a fictionalized version of himself.  It's like a maze within a maze within another maze... 

All that "meta-thinking" is making my head foggy.  I better close now and finish The Joy Luck Club.

Bye for now!

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