Understanding Historiographic Metafiction
Historiographic metafiction is a relatively new term being used within the postmodern realm of writing. This genre has really come from the much older form of historical fiction. The best road to understanding this change is to understand fiction, metafiction, and then historiographic writing. Each of the following authors and critics add to the understanding of each part that came to develop what is now called historiographic metafiction.
Robert Scholes’s article, Metafiction, is a good starting point for understanding the meaning of metafiction, even though he does not give a simple explanation and the reader has to read almost a third of the article to get to the meaning. His paper is broken into two parts.
The first part is aimed more at the meaning, beginnings, structure, history, and the different critical analysis of fiction. He has made an attempt to quantify the ordering of fiction, by utilizing charts, but with limited success. However, it is a good system to help the reader understand his discussion and separation of fiction (forms and ideas) and being (existence and essence). He says, “Both the forms of existence and the forms of fiction are most satisfying when they are in harmony with their essential qualities1.” Most of the first part is a discussion on the different types of criticism, but he ends the section with an interesting lead into the second part by pointing out that the confusion of American criticism has actually lead to a new and more vigorous fiction called metafiction.
It is in this section; Mr. Scholes gives us a better idea of what metafiction is about. He tries, once more to use charts to bolster his explanations, but the writing examples that he gives us are much more helpful.
This is an important starting point to understanding historiographic metafiction as it will give an understanding of fiction and the subtle change to metafiction. Mr. Scholes explanation of ultimate...