“Fabulism” or “Magical Realism.”



As a reaction against the demands of mainstream verisimilar fiction, writers of “fabulism” or “magical realism” have sought to reinvent or reinvigorate or reconceive traditional realism by infusing it with the characteristics of older forms such as the fable (hence the name), the tale, the legend, the myth, as well as allegory and parable.


Events or characters in such works are not expected to obey or conform to the conventions of realism: carpets may fly, animals may talk, etc.


Works in this mode tend toward the ornate, the Gothic, the subjective, the dream-like, the surreal. In Jose Saramago’s novel Blindness, for example, a mysterious illness causes everyone in the world to go blind within a matter of days.


Some other characteristics:


Some seminal works and examples:






As a reaction against the demands of mainstream verisimilar fiction, writers of “metafiction” or “postmodernist irony” have sought to deconstruct or redefine fictional narration by using techniques that encourage readers to see the text as a fabric of language rather than a documentation of “reality.” It reminds the reader that the previously highly touted qualities of verisimilitude are artificial conventions, not accurate reflections of or accounts of reality.


Historically, it begin to develop just after WWII along with the developments in French literary criticism -- post-structuralism, semiotics, etc. It shares a common premise with the critical ideas that texts and language are subject to suspicion, or subject to psychoanalytic and political analysis and that language is not “innocent.”


Writers of metafiction often deliberately break the “pane of illusion” by abruptly interrupting a story to intrude or interject another “reality” upon it. In John Fowles’s novel The French Lieutenant’s Woman, for example, Fowles in the persona of “author” interrupts his story in Chapter 13 to discuss his “character” Sarah. The narrator is “Those Who Walk Away From Omelas” conjures up an alternative reality at the story’s opening only to dispel it by addressing the reader directly with remarks that suggest the portrait of the place is being created, not described: the narrator moves from being someone who appears to be a part of the story to being someone who is making the story. As a result, “Omelas” ceases to be a “real” place and becomes a fictitious tool for making a point.


Metafiction tends to be self-referential, pointing back to itself rather than to a reality outside itself. It is often said that metafiction is "fiction about fiction." Or fiction about language itself. Frequently it constitutes what has been referred to as "metaparody" Parody of forms. Like the fabulists, “metafictionists” also sometimes borrow conventional plots or traditional stories in order to disassemble their elements: Coover’s story collection “Pricksongs and Descants,” for example, contains his version of  “Hansel & Gretel” and a version of “Jack and the Beanstalk.” Where a fabulist might reinterpret that story yet still maintain the conventions of character and plot and linear development, Coover wishes to undermine your presumptions about what a story is supposedly to make you more aware of how narrative of all kinds (such as political speeches, slogans, platforms, etc.) operates to manipulate your intellect and emotions.


Seminal works and examples: