Metafiction (3723 words)

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

Bernd Engler (Eberhard-Karls Universitat Tubingen)
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The term “metafiction” has remained enigmatic and vague since it was coined in 1970 by William H. Gass in an essay entitled “Philosophy and the Form of Fiction”. Commenting on American fiction of the 1960s, Gass pointed out that a new term was needed for the emerging genre of experimental texts that openly broke with the tradition of literary realism still dominant in post-WW II American literature. Established terms like “antinovel” or “antifiction” failed to characterize the radical narrative innovations of American writers such as John Barth, Donald Barthelme, Raymond Federman, or Ronald Sukenick because these writers did not only violate or subvert the dominant conventions of novel writing, but also explicitly …

Citation: Engler, Bernd. "Metafiction". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 17 December 2004 [, accessed 29 September 2020.]

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