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Russian Postmodernist Metafiction

Nina Kolesnikoff

One of the most outstanding properties of Russian postmodernist fiction is its reliance on metafictional devices which foreground aspects of the writing, reading or structure, and draw attention to the constructed nature of fiction writing. Some common metafictional strategies include overt commentary on the process of writing, the presence of an obtrusive narrator, dehumanization of character, total breakdown of temporal and spatial organization and the undermining of specific literary conventions.
This book examines the most representative postmodernist texts and addresses the following questions: How widespread is the use of metafiction in contemporary Russian literature? What are its most pronounced forms? What is the function of metafictional devices? How innovative are Russian postmodernist writers in their use of metafictional techniques?
This study reveals the unique contribution of postmodernist writers to the development of Russian literature through their systematic use of metafiction and their bold experimentation with new metafictional devices on all the principal levels of the text, including narration, plot, characterization, setting and language.


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Chapter Four - Characters as Verbal Constructs - 67


67 Chapter Four Characters as Verbal Constructs Along with narration and plot structure, characterization repre- & $ ) > )& &- tional characters and to undermine the mimetic representation of literary characters. Whereas the mimetic representation of charac- ters assumes an anterior existence of reality and postulates a close proximity between literary characters and actual human beings, postmodernist literature dismisses this type of relationship and &? & ! & - acters, created and sustained exclusively by verbal means.1 The foregrounding of the verbal nature of literary characters * $ * !& strategies, including reduction and overabundance, eccentric exe- cution and overt metacommentary. Not surprisingly, the reduc- tion of characterization is among the most favorite strategies, since * !! ! - ters exist only as linguistic constructs and should not be treated as replicas of actual human beings. In their reduction of charac- >$ ) &))* 'Z [ * !& ! >@'|' *!>Char- acter and the Novel>( „ * ! >:;‡ j` X !> / Q#6 %& 6 @ >Z& - >:;Reading People, Reading Plots: Character, Pro- gression and the Interpretation of Narrative> „ * !& >:;'Literary Character>% „ * ! &B >:;;_' 68 the one hand, they continue the modernist tradition of excessive fragmentation which undermines the uniqueness and singularity of literary characters.2 On the other hand, they introduce intertexual and formulaic characters and overtly expose their invented nature. & & $ - tion is achieved not only by the reduction of information regard- ing characters, but also by an overt violation of the mimetic prin- ciples of characterization. This violation is most apparent in the area of explicit characterization with a great reduction or absence of direct statements made by the narrator or any other...

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