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Literary Criticism Books & Reading

Narcissistic Narrative

The Metafictional Paradox

by (author) Linda Hutcheon

Wilfrid Laurier University Press
Initial publish date
Jun 1981
Books & Reading, Study & Teaching, Semiotics & Theory
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Jun 1981
    List Price
    $85.00 USD
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Jan 2010
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    May 2013
    List Price

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Linda Hutcheon, in this original study, examines the modes, forms and techniques of narcissistic fiction, that is, fiction which includes within itself some sort of commentary on its own narrative and/or linguistic nature. Her analysis is further extended to discuss the implications of such a development for both the theory of the novel and reading theory.

Having placed this phenomenon in its historical context Linda Hutcheon uses the insights of various reader-response theories to explore the “paradox” created by metafiction: the reader is, at the same time, co-creator of the self-reflexive text and distanced from it because of its very self-reflexiveness. She illustrates her analysis through the works of novelists such as Fowles, Barth, Nabokov, Calvino, Borges, Carpentier, and Aquin. For the paperback edition of this important book a preface has been added which examines developments since first publication. Narcissistic Narrative was selected by Choice as one of the outstanding academic books for 1981–1982.

About the author

Linda Hutcheon holds the rank of University Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Toronto. A specialist in postmodernist culture and in critical theory, on which she has published nine books, she has also worked collaboratively in large projects involving hundreds of scholars.

Linda Hutcheon's profile page


  • Unknown, Selected by Choice as one of the outstanding academic books for 1981–1982.

Editorial Reviews

"In this volume Hutcheon accomplishes two important goals at once. She provides sensitive, insightful readings of a wide range of contemporary novels which are genuinely difficult to read, even to adepts. And at the same time she places these readings within the contexts of critical theory which seem to be required in order to do these works justice. Either of these tasks by itself would be formidable; here critical precept and textual analysis are woven together throughout the work.... There is no mistaking the high degree of critical intelligence which is evident throughout this book. Present everywhere is esthetic sensibility joined to theoretical awareness. For anyone working on this body of literature, or on other works in a similar vein, this book provides an essential point of reference."

, Recherches sémiotiques/Semiotic Inquiry, Vol. 2 no. 4

Hutcheon's study, which is thoroughly well-informed...succeeds in showing the broad range of the metafictional phenomenon in our time by discussing numerous writers and numerous texts.... [T]he strengths of Hutcheon's book are many...and I highly recommend this study for its intelligence, its informativeness, and its insights.

French Forum

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