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Narrative Levels and Embedded Narrative


William Nelles

The structural device of the «story within a story», variously labeled «frame», «Chinese box», «Russian doll», or «embedded» narrative, is so widely found in the literature of all cultures and periods as to approach universality. Despite its durable attraction for writers and audiences throughout history, however, embedded narrative remains a form largely unmapped by literary theory. This study surveys and synthesizes the work done to date on this significant artistic technique and breaks new ground by providing a comprehensive model for the description and analysis of the many types and functions of embedded narrative.