Textual Space and Metafiction in Mark Z Danielewski's House of Leaves

Barton, Simon (2006) Textual Space and Metafiction in Mark Z Danielewski's House of Leaves. Masters thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

[thumbnail of Thesis document]
PDF (Thesis document) - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial Share Alike.

[thumbnail of Permission form] PDF (Permission form) - Supplemental Material
Restricted to Repository staff only



The thesis presents an argument that through employing metafictional techniques, experimentation with textual and graphic space and allusions to hypertextual devices, Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves seeks to remind the reader of the presence of the book in print fiction.

Danielewski dispenses with traditional textual formats in order to provoke the reader to realise the presence of the physical book in their hands. This is mirrored in the narrative as two of the main characters both obtain a copy of the very same book that the reader is holding. The author employs metafictional characteristics such as characters that acknowledge their fictional status whilst writing a book within a book. The first chapter of the thesis examines the potential of metatexts and criticism in the twenty-first century and a questioning of its continued relevance.

Danielewski challenges textual space that potentially distances the reader from the narrative. There is an overwhelming amount of blank space in the text where there could have been narrative. The reader is told on several occasions that parts of the narrative are missing. Chapter Two is concerned with references to the book and the unconventional page aesthetics that encourage the reader to initially look at the page before actually 'looking through the page'.

The final chapter compares House of Leaves with the hypertext fictions that it so often mirrors. The two forms of literature, whilst initially seeming quite different are actually very similar in narrative and form. House of Leaves appears to draw on some of the conventions associated with hypertext fiction in order to provide the reader a more active role in the reading of the text, whilst allowing them to understand the conventions of the writing.

The experimentation with conventional textual space, metatextual techniques and references to electronic literature in House of Leaves challenge the nature of the physical book and its presence in contemporary prose fiction.

Repository Staff Only: item control page