This chapter both gives an account of the critical treatment of post-World War II metafiction and introduces the key terms that guide the book. The existing critical debates about postwar metafiction have tended to emphasize metafiction’s incorporation of critical and philosophical discourse, and have suggested that it either makes the novel newly responsible to political communities or disables literature from intervening into political situations. More recent criticism based on literary institutions has tended to overlook key questions of literary value. The terms the chapter develops to renew discussion about postwar metafiction are ‘self of writing’ and ‘public author as signature’. These terms are derived from a reading of Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quixote and J. L. Borges’s ‘Borges and I’. The self of writing refers to the figure of the author that a writer may imagine exists independent of discourse. The public author as signature represents the public understandings of an author that emerge from biography and the author’s corpus itself.
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