Masters Thesis

In formal contexts: the paratextual features of historiographic metafiction

The Introduction to this thesis defines a number of key terms and concepts related to the study of paratexts in historiographic metafiction. The chapters that follow describe how paratextual forms operate within specific historiographic metafictional novels. The first of these chapters covers the footnotes in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, painting the novel's narrator as a fairly typical historiographer. The second chapter delves into the metafictional elements tied to the appendices which conclude The Lord of the Rings and argues that J.R.R. Tolkien's reputation as an author and scholar may have influenced the development of that novel. The third major chapter explains how paratexts are employed to assert authorial identity in Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography. Finally, the thesis concludes that the aesthetic uses for paratexts are virtually infinite and predicts that the genre of historiographic metafiction will continue to be a favorite among postmodernists.

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