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The Meta-fictional Elements in Mantissa

Author LiuJianLing
Tutor YuJianHua
School Yangzhou University
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords John Fowles Mantissa meta-fiction
CLC I561.074
Type Master's thesis
Year 2011
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John Robert Fowles is not only a profile writer but also an extraordinarily successful one. In2008, The Times put Fowles on its list of "The50greatest British writers since1945".Mantissa is Fowles’s shortest, lightest and most gamesome work, apparent emblem of a loss of confidence in contemporary art’s ability to imitate reality. Mantissa fully reveals a slide of Fowles that we rarely see in his earlier novels. The novel was too playful for its first reviewers, who declared positive reviews. Since its publication in1982, this novel has been widely criticized and commented on from different scholarly perspectives in the literary field:some have made sexual studies of it; some try to explore Fowles’s critic theory from it; some concern about the literary strategies, so on and so forth.In recent years, quite a few critics begin to notice the "meta-fiction" feature of this novel. However, researches in this sphere are still inadequate and incomplete; those critics seem to underestimate the meta-fiction features in this novel. In fact, the theme of meta-fiction in Fowles’s work is taken into a fantastic extreme in Mantissa. Mantissa is Fowles’s most self-reflexive novel.This thesis, based on a relatively detailed textual analysis, endeavours to make an exploration of the meta-fictional features of this text by elaborating on self-reflexivity, parody and indeterminacy in Mantissa.This thesis consists of five parts. Introduction includes a brief introduction to John Robert Fowles and his Mantissa, and then defines the key term meta-fiction. It also includes a review of current study on Mantissa and an explanation of the purpose of this thesis.The main body of this thesis (Chapter One to Chapter Three) makes an elaborate and systematic analysis of the three meta-fictional elements in Mantissa, that is, the self-reflexivity, parody and indeterminacy in this novel. Chapter One focuses on self-reflexivity which is one of the most prominent themes of meta-fiction writing. Mantissa is Fowles’s most self-reflexive novel. Its narrative technique of self-reflexivity is embodied in its critique of fiction and the process of creativity for its character-novelist, Miles Green.Chapter Two explores the parodied elements in Mantissa. The four parts of the novel are introduced by a number of epigraphs that act as parody, and the entire novel is prefaced by two other intertexts. Besides, the interests of Fowles at the time of writing Mantissa coincide in various ways with other contemporary writers.Chapter Three analyzes the uncertainty of plot, character, pattern, setting and scenes of Mantissa. And this indeterminacy foregrounds the relationship between reader and text, leaving room for readers’idiosyncratic interpretation of the novel.Mantissa obviously contains the typical meta-fictional elements:self-reflexivity, parody and indeterminacy, which are taken into a fantastic extreme in this novel. These typical meta-fictional elements are of great significance to demystify Mantissa.

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