In this trenchant and lively study Brian McHale undertakes to construct a version of postmodernist fiction which encompasses forms as wide-ranging as North American metafiction, Latin American magic realism, the French New New Novel, concrete prose and science fiction. Considering a variety of theoretical approaches including those of Ingarden, Eco, Dolezel, Pavel, and Hrushovski, McHale shows that the common denominator is postmodernist fiction's ability to thrust its own ontological status into the foreground and to raise questions about the world (or worlds) in which we live. Exploiting various theoretical approaches to literary ontology - those of Ingarden, Eco, Dolezel, Pavel, Hrushovski and others - and ranging widely over contemporary world literature, McHale assembles a comprehensive repertoire of postmodernist fiction's strategies of world-making and -unmaking.
"This is one of the most lively and lucid studies of contemporary fiction around. Whether or not you agree with his provocative definition of the postmodern, McHale's argument is always engaging, bold and forceful." Linda Hutcheon
"Not only does the critical jargon not get in the way of his thesis, but McHale even uses examples you've heard of … A useful and comprehensive examination of the nature of The Beast." City Limits
"McHale … has written a brilliant, forceful and lucid defence of his own view." John Fletcher, Journal of European Studies
Part 1: Preliminaries 1. From modernist to postmodernist fiction: change of dominant 2. Some ontologies of fiction Part 2: Worlds 3. In the Zone 4. Worlds in collusion 5. A world next door 6. Real, compared to what? Part 3: Construction 7. Worlds under erasure 8. Chinese-box worlds Part 5. Words 9. Tropological worlds 10. Styled worlds 11. Worlds of discourse Part 5: Groundings 12. Worlds on paper 13. Authors: dead and posthumous 14. Love and death in the post-modernist novel