An Interrogation of the Allegorical Function of Mise en Abyme

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Mise en abyme, in Gregory Minissale’s definition, is “a process of representation within representation”. It is a narrative technique
characterised by eternal extension of repetitive images. Under Paul Ricoeur’s framework of narrative-metaphor analogy, Mise en abyme can be regarded not as a blank intertextuality, but as an allegorical infinity structurally performed by textual arrangement. Following his discussion, it is important to explore the functions of allegory from the connection of text and reality to the integration of different elements of text (like plots, rhetoric usage, ideas, personal characters, etc.). As both narrative and the reality imitated by
narrative are bound with time, the temporality of Mise en abyme enables it to be more internally referable. This referability is significant to realise its whole process of functioning. Structured with this central idea, this paper will be exemplified through
Nietzsche’s “eternal recurrence” mentioned in Kundera's novel Unbearable Lightness of Being and the Sisyphusian life mode in the enclosed communist countryside shown in Ar Cheng (a Chinese writer)’s novella “King of Children”. It is expected that this paper
can bring the current thinking of Mise en abyme from metafictional rhetoric to internal complexity of signification.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2015
Event4th European Narratology Network Conference 2015: Modelling Narrative across Borders - Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium
Duration: 16 Apr 201518 Apr 2015


Conference4th European Narratology Network Conference 2015
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