Chapter

Metamorphosis and Embedding

Bruce Clarke

in Posthuman Metamorphosis

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print April 2008 | ISBN: 9780823228508
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823240999 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5422/fordham/9780823228508.003.0005
Metamorphosis and Embedding

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Embedding is an articulation of the most essential property of all narrative. By telling the story of another narrative, the first narrative achieves its fundamental theme. Narrative embedding is the primary textual analog of systemic self-reference. The play and sequence of embedded and embedding narrative frames reenacts the essential paradoxicality in the operation of observing systems. Systems theory reconceives form not as the mere shape of things but by which thoughts or things are distinguished and observed. The embedded and embedding narrative frames assume precisely the self-referential form of any form by marking the virtual edges of narrative structures. John Barth, an American author, has meditated both metafictively and critically on the matter of embedded narration. Barth's metafiction is an especially spectacular instance of the way a narrative embedding put self-referential processes into literary operation.

Keywords: narrative; embedding; self-reference; systems theory; form; narrative frames; John Barth; metafiction

Chapter.  12854 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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