Entering the Metaverse: Comic Self-Reference

I. A. Ruffell

in Politics and Anti-Realism in Athenian Old Comedy

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199587216
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731297 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Classical Monographs

Entering the Metaverse: Comic Self-Reference

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This chapter examines the extent, range, and limits of comic self-reflexivity, which has recently been considered under the term ‘metatheatre’. The logical contradictions of such self-reference are situated alongside other forms of comic impossibility, and presented not as a form of distancing but as a form of audience involvement and intensification, in a dialogue with other empirical forms of comic impossibility, in which a fictional but grotesque baseline is maintained. Comic self-reference, despite its impossibility, acts as a tether for the audience. Even in less obviously metatheatrical plays (Clouds, Lysistrata, Ecclesiazousai), spikes in comic self-reference are shown to be narrative intensifiers and variations in the extent of self-reference are related to specific, often gendered, ideological demands.

Keywords: self-reference; metatheatre; fiction; impossibility; grotesque; plot; Clouds; Lysistrata; Ecclesiazousai

Chapter.  22537 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Classical Literature

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