Notes on Self-conscious Narratives

Notes on self-consciousness as a narrator and metafiction, with reference to Life of Pi by Yann Martel, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood and The End of the Story by Lydia Davis:

  • In Ch96 of LoP, Mr Patel is Pi and a proxy for the author, who is writing in first-person point of view (POV) about his (Pi’s) experiences as a person who survived many days on a lifeboat with a live tiger, as related in the book. I think. It’s humorous the way that Mr Patel/Pi is interviewed, by reporters, in his own book about the contents of the book. That’s the self-conscious, self-referential part.
  • On pages 311-14 of THT, a framing device is set up which purports to be a scene from the future (2195) in which a lecturer talks of a series of cassette tapes that were discovered, transcribed and (one assumes; I’ve not read this book) form the basis, if not the whole text of, THT. This kind of self-referential style is referred to as metafiction.
  • TEotS is about a woman who is writing about herself writing a novel. Most of it is self-referential in that she is one of the two main characters in the book (the other being the man she was having an affair with). On pages 38-42 she is agonising (as she does throughout the novel, and through much of her short fiction) about what to call the two main characters, one of which is herself. It’s the mark of fiction like this (I think) that there’s much thought about little. I did a crossword yesterday and one of the clues was flurry. The answer turned out to be ado. So, yeah – this novel is much flurry about nothing much.
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