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The Spanish Metafictional Novel: Cervantes, Galdos, Unamuno, and Torrente Ballester.

Ana Maria Dotras, University of Massachusetts Amherst


The metafictional novel is a novel that draws attention to its own form or construction and systematically flaunts its own condition of artifice, and by so doing poses questions about the relationship between fiction and reality. In other words, the metafictional novel is such that--explicitly or implicitly, and making use of a variety of strategies and techniques--deliberately exposes the fictiveness and artifice of the literary creation. As a tendency, the metafictional novel has been part of the history of literature since the very beginnings of the novelistic genre with the publication of Cervantes' Don Quijote de la Mancha. In the present Dissertation five Spanish novels belonging to four different periods of Spanish Literature have been selected: Miguel de Cervantes' Don Quijote de la Mancha, Benito Perez Galdos' El amigo Manso, Miguel de Unamuno's Niebla, and Gonzalo Torrente Ballester's Fragmentos de Apocalipsis and La Isla de los Jacintos Cortados. The first chapter is an introduction which refers to the most relevant theories as well as individual contributions to the study of metafiction, establishing the theoretical foundation for the individual and comparative analysis of each of the selected novels studied in the following chapters. These analyses identify the main characteristics of metafiction: its anti-realism, self-consciousness, self-referentiality or self-critical reflexion, the literary theorization within the novel, its playful nature, and the particular importance given to the role of the reader. Departing from the initial question regarding the emergence of a tendency from within the novelistic genre that includes, as part of the novel itself, the preoccupation about the essence of literature, the conclusion is that metafiction can be considered an answer to the "mystery" of literary creation and, therefore, to the interaction between reality and fiction, life and art. On the other hand, all the metafictional novels analyzed here claim, in one way or another, in a lesser or greater degree, a wide and dynamic conception of the novelistic genre and the freedom of creation and imagination.

Subject Area

Modern literature|Romance literature|Literature

Recommended Citation

Dotras, Ana Maria, "The Spanish Metafictional Novel: Cervantes, Galdos, Unamuno, and Torrente Ballester." (1991). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9120872.