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Politics and Anti-Realism in Athenian Old ComedyThe Art of the Impossible$
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Ian Ruffell

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199587216

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199587216.001.0001

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Entering the Metaverse: Comic Self-Reference

Entering the Metaverse: Comic Self-Reference

Chapter:
(p.214) 6 Entering the Metaverse: Comic Self-Reference
Source:
Politics and Anti-Realism in Athenian Old Comedy
Author(s):

I. A. Ruffell

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199587216.003.0006

This chapter examines the extent, range, and limits of comic self-reflexivity, which has recently been considered under the term ‘metatheatre’. The logical contradictions of such self-reference are situated alongside other forms of comic impossibility, and presented not as a form of distancing but as a form of audience involvement and intensification, in a dialogue with other empirical forms of comic impossibility, in which a fictional but grotesque baseline is maintained. Comic self-reference, despite its impossibility, acts as a tether for the audience. Even in less obviously metatheatrical plays (Clouds, Lysistrata, Ecclesiazousai), spikes in comic self-reference are shown to be narrative intensifiers and variations in the extent of self-reference are related to specific, often gendered, ideological demands.

Keywords:   self-reference, metatheatre, fiction, impossibility, grotesque, plot, Clouds, Lysistrata, Ecclesiazousai

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