Levels of Reality in Literature  

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"The term metafiction appears to have been coined in English by William H. Gass in his 1970 essay “Philosophy and the Form of Fiction” while the term metapainting appeared in English perhaps for the first time in the 1978 essay "Levels of Reality in Literature" by Italo Calvino." --Sholem Stein

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"Levels of Reality in Literature" is an essay by Italo Calvino, first given as a speech in the Palazzo Vecchio, 9-13 September 1978. It was collected in The Uses of Literature.

On metafiction

"I write. This statement, "I write" (or "I am writing"), is connected with the whole field of problems — particularly fertile in this century — concerning what has been called metaliterature, and. the analogous problems of metatheatre, metapainting, ..."
"We already mentioned the play within the play while speaking of Shakespeare; there is no dearth of examples in the work of other playwrights, from Corneille's Illusion comique to Pirandello's Six Characters in Search of an Author. "

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