The UVic Writer's Guide




Metadrama, Metafiction


Metadrama and metafiction are modes of writing that comment on their own activities: they are self-reflexive.

When Shakespeare has Hamlet commenting on the tendency of actors to overact, or when Jane Austen as narrator comments that Northanger Abbey has few pages left, so the problems facing the hero and heroine must soon be over, the reader is being deliberately reminded of the relationship between reader and author.

Metadramatic and metafictional techniques were less frequently employed in the later nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, but have returned in many recent plays and novels: Margaret Atwood's Lady Oracle, Italo Calvino's If on a Winter Night a Traveller, Sharon Pollock's Blood Relations, and plays by Tom Stoppard and Peter Shaffer are examples.


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Copyright, The Department of English, University of Victoria, 1995
This page updated September 23, 1995