The Allegorical Function of Mise en Abyme in Milan Kundera's Unbearable Lightness of Being and A Cheng’s “King of Children”

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Abstract

Mise en abyme, according to 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, such as 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 narrative to be more internally referable. This referability is significant to understand how narrative constitutes reader reception. Structured with this central idea, this paper examines Nietzsche’s "eternal recurrence" mentioned in Milan Kundera’s novel The Unbearable Lightness of Being and the Sisyphusian life mode in the enclosed communist countryside shown in Ah Cheng’s novella "The King of Children".
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)102-115
Number of pages14
JournalLanguage and Semiotic Studies
Volume5
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019

User-Defined Keywords

  • mise en abyme
  • rhetoric studies
  • allegorical function
  • The Unbearable Lightness of Being
  • The King of Children

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