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메타픽션 속의 메타픽션을 찾아서 ─ 존 파울즈의 소설『만티사』읽기
In Search of a Metafiction within a Metafiction: A Reading of John Fowles’s Mantissa

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Authors
장경렬
Issue Date
2003
Publisher
서울대학교 인문대학 인문학연구원
Citation
인문논총, Vol.49, pp. 125-148
Keywords
메타픽션metafiction
Abstract
John Fowles argues in his novel, Mantissa, that “writing about fiction has
become a far more important matter than writing fiction itself. It’s one of
the best ways you can tell the true novelist nowadays. He’s not going to
waste his time over the messy garage-mechanic drudge of assembling
stories and characters on paper.” And Mantissa itself is a fiction in which
the writer is writing about fiction. More to the point, Fowles is using his
fiction, Mantissa, as “a reflexive medium now, not a reflective one.” It’s
reflexive in the sense that he is writing about “the difficulty of writing
serious modern fiction,” and it’s not reflective in the sense that he is not
“tempering with real life or reality.”
Critics of today generally call modern novel whose subject is “the
difficulty of writing serious modern fiction” as metafiction. In particular,
Mantissa is a metafiction about metafiction — a metafiction introspectively
dealing not just with “the difficulty of writing . . . fiction,” but with the
mature of metafictional mode itself. Thus, readers with traditional mind-set
would feel embarrassed or insulted when they read Mantissa, which defies
every bit of their expectation. As if to appease the readers of Mantissa,
Fowles uses the term, mantissa, as the title of his fiction. As Fowles says in
Mantissa, using a quotation from Oxford English Dictionary, “mantissa” is
“an addition of comparatively small importance, especially to a literary
effort or discourse.” In a sense, Fowles seems to advise the reader not to
expect too much, for Mantissa is nothing but an addition of small
importance. It may be true that Mantissa is an addition to the whole literary
endeavor for which he has staked his life, or, in a wider sense, to what all
the modern writers has aspired to achieve as writers. His novel, Mantissa,
however, cannot be made light of as a mere addition, since it is filled with
serious and sincere argument and speculation on what an introspective
writer would do with his novel. It may even be thought to be an arena
where the dominant ideas of literature of the 20th century compete with the
traditional beliefs in literature.
In short, Mantissa should be considered not just an addition but a center
— a center of debate between the old and new ideas of literature. That’s
why we want to read Mantissa in light of the dominant literary and critical
ideas of our times. We begin our reading with the Barthesian assumption
that Mantissa is a “writerly text” that invites its reader to produce meaning.
Most of all, our reading will prove that Mantissa is, to use Fowles’s words,
“a kind of literary jeu d’esprit” that unfolds its Protean aspects at its writer’s
— and, of course, the reader’s — own sweet will. Also, our reading will
show that it is a metafiction, which not only mystifies but also demystifies
the language of literature as well as the old and new ideas of literature.
ISSN
1598-3021
Language
Korean
URI
http://hdl.handle.net/10371/29406
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Appears in Collections:
College of Humanities (인문대학)Institute of Humanities (인문학연구원)Journal of humanities (인문논총)Journal of Humanities vol.49 (2003) (인문논총)
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