Types Of Metatexts In The Works Of Some Russian Postmodernism Authors


The article deals with the concept of metatext in the modern linguistic science. Elements of metatextuality appeared in literary works since people began to think about the specifics and nature of literature, ponder on the creative process as such. Usually the appearance of the metatextuality phenomenon is associated with the penetration of the reflexive principle into the structure of the literary text. It is given a brief description of the leading researches in this field. The general and main source of the modern conception of metatextuality is the idea of ​​MM Bakhtin's dialogueness, which introduces the concept of "another's word" and "two-voiced word" (it can be regarded as a metastructure) in literary dialogue. Today the problem of metatextuality is dealt with by such scientists as Yu.M. Lotman, M.N. Lipovetsky, N.V.Lukina, A.Vezhbitska, T.Ya.Andryushchenko, N.I.Ryabtseva, V.A.Shaimiev and others. It is given a definition of the metatext. The author considers different types of classifications of metatext in the works of leading researchers in this field. The author researchers and analyzes the metatext in some works of russian post-modernism writers V. Pelevin, N. Baitov, E. Popov. There are given the definitions of metatextual element and metatext. The author attempts to classify different types of metatext and makes the conclusions about the functions.

Keywords: Metatextmetatextual elementreflexivityfunctionpost-modernism


Modern linguistics as well as a number of other humanitarian disciplines that study various aspects of human activity have recently shown increasing interest in the communicative aspects of language. At the same time literary communication is at the forefront. In modern research there is a tendency to actively study the status of speech subjects of literary communication as carriers of certain notional positions, to identify ways of influence on the addressee and to consider the actualization of dialogical links in various types of text. The dialogueness of any text is manifested as a kind of attitude for a certain recipient, as an impulse, which determines the principles of text-making. The appearance of the metatextuality phenomenon is associated with the penetration of a reflexive principle into the structure of a literary work.

Problem Statement

The study of metatextuality is today one of the most recent problems of philological science. The attention of many scientists in linguistics, semiotics, culturology has been attracted by the phenomena of "metatextuality" and "metatext" for the last decades. But there is no unity in the interpretation of these concepts in the above areas of science.

One of the founders of the metatextuality concept is MM Bakhtin and his idea of ​dialogueness, which he uses by analyzing the metatextuality of a novel. The main point of this idea is that the word, which for the hero is a way of image, for the author is also the subject of the image. This situation is typical for novels.

The scientist-philologist Yu.M. Lotman was one of the first who wrote about meta-textuality as an independent problem. He pointed the early emergence of metatextuality elements in the literature, which reveal the reflexive component of literary creativity.

After the work of A Vežbická, the concept of metatextis studied in linguistics, but it is defined and developed in different ways. This fact indicates the ambiguity and problematic nature of this phenomenon.

Research Questions

The range of research questions includes:

  • 1. Analysis of the metatextual layer of postmodern works. Postmodern literary works are a kind of "superliterature": their main problems are the existence of a text culture in general and the literary text in particular. Creativity is one of the main problems in the postmodern text. It is already laid in the principle of autoreflexion, which is in the center of postmodern aesthetics. In this sense the preponderance ofmetatexts in postmodernism is natural. This fact determines our interest in this literary direction.

  • 2. Classification of metatext types. In the works of leading researchers in this field there is no single definition of metatextuality and metatext as well as single classification of types of metatext.

  • 3. Identification of the functions of different types of metatext.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this research is to study the metatextual layer in the works of Russian postmodern writers (V.Pelevin, N. Baytov, E.Popov), identify the various types of metatext and its functions.

Research Methods

The research presents an analysis of the metatextural layer in the aspect of linguistic expression and functioning. Research methods are a continuous sampling method; method of contextual analysis used in the study of the implementation of the value of metatextual means in the linguistic and extralinguistic contexts; method of transformation analysis used to identify the metatext potential of certain text elements; the typological method used to categorize the different types of metatext.


Traditionally it is accepted that the study of metatext in linguistics began in the works of A. Vezhbitska. The researcher considers any text as two-text: the text itself and the commentary part to it. Such a relationship can also arise with one's own utterance, when the speaker estranges his own words, shares his authorship. Thus, the metatext is a text in a text.

According to A.Vezhbitska, metatext is words and expressions having as a referent a certain text and pointing to the subject of the statement, the link between the fragments of the text; emphasizing the author’s estranging his own words; Explicitly or implicitly mentioning the process of speech itself. These aremetaorganizers and metatext components (Vezhbickaja,1978).

A somewhat different understanding of metatext we find in R. Jacobson’s works. Metatext elements are elements of speech that have a metalanguage function, the essence of which is to make the code of the text the subject of speech (Jakobson, 1985).

N.I. Ryabtseva defines metatext as a communicative "deixis", indicating the topic of the statement, organization, structuredness and coherence of the text (Rjabceva, 1994).

For V.Shaimiev, metatext is a pragmatic-situational formation reflecting specific situations of creating, commenting and perception of the main text (Prikhoda, 2017).

Thus, there is a narrowing or widening of the metatext concept, the heterogeneity of the metatext layer, which emphasizes the need for classifying metatextual inclusions.

Among the researchers of the phenomenon of metatextuality, there is no consensus on the classification of metatexts.

A.Vezhbitska distinguishes metatextual forms with the semantic element "to speak"; "Meta-organizers", indicating the topic of the statement; "Metaorganizers", signaling the order in a logical sequence; metatextual elements that establish equivalence or quasi-equivalence within the text (Vezhbickaja, 1978).

V. Shaimiev distinguishes metatext of two types:

  • Intrametext - metatext operators (parts of statements) inside the main text, explicating pragmatic speech meanings.

  • Separative metatext - distanced from the main text of formation (Prikhoda, 2017).

For Vande Kopple, metatext is a composition-syntactic phenomenon. He distinguishes textual and interpersonal metatext. According to the author, the textual metatext structures the text as a whole and separates the main and secondary information. With the help of interpersonal metatext, the author expresses his attitude to the content of the text and maintains contact with the reader (Prikhoda, 2017).

Based on the research data, we attempt to classify metatext inclusions within the framework of the literary text. The material for the study are metatextsfrom the works of Russian postmodern authors (V.Pelevin, N. Baitov, E. Popov).

We propose to distinguish two groups of metatextual inclusions:

  • Metatextual elements;

  • The metatext.

Metatextual elements are words and expressions that have as a referent acertain text and fullfil a metatextual function (the subject of attention in the text is the process of its creation, the principles of construction, coherence, the reader's perceptual possibilities).

We can divide metatextual elements into several groups:

Metatextual forms with explicit element “говорить”: Впрочем, мы слишком долго говорим об обезьянах.. (Pelevin, 2018); О тетке мне сказать почти нечего (Pelevin, 2015); Но критики не понимают (лучшие критики, умные, – про быдло, надменно воротящее нос от «самодеятельности», я не говорю)..(Bajtov, 2018); Поэтому не буду повторяться. Скажу только, что макет нашей ракеты был выполнен в натуральную величину (Pelevin, 2015); Надо сказать, что этим вопросом я задавался еще в детстве (Pelevin, 2015);

Metatextual forms with implicit element “говорить”: Короче, лето после седьмого класса было жарким и пыльным (Pelevin, 2015) (We can suggest the following semantic record: Говорю кратко, что лето после седьмого класса.. );

  • Metatextual elements emphasizing the author’s estranging his own words: Это надо было бы быть полным отсталым деревенщиной, чтобы верить, как при советской власти, будто бы искусство… (Bajtov, 2018);

  • Metaorganizers of statement:

Elements indicating the topic of the statement: Что касается Кима, то его проект.. (Bajtov, 2018); Речь идет о наборе ритмизованных и весьма полисемантичных из-за своей омонимичности заклинаний.. (Pelevin, 2018);

  • Elements indicating the direction of thought: Впрочем, Татарский никогда не был большим моралистом .. (Pelevin, 2018);

Elements signaling the order in a logical sequence: Но даже земля с развалинами империй и цивилизаций погружалась в конце концов в свинцовый океан.. (Pelevin, 2018); К этому выводу приводили, во-первых, классическая фрейдистская ассоциация, обусловленная цветом продукта; во-вторых, логическое умозаключение.. (Pelevin, 2018).

Metatextual elements reflecting the doubt/confidence of the speaker: Наверно, дело было не только в замечательных вкусовых качествах этого напитка (Pelevin, 2018); Антирусский заговор, безусловно, существует.. (Pelevin, 2018); Татарский, конечно, ненавидел советскую власть в большинстве ее проявлений (Pelevin, 2018);

Metatextual elements indicating main and secondary information: Главное – вовремя обзавестись хорошими мозгами! (Pelevin, 2018); Совершенно ясно, что при составлении сколько-нибудь серьезной рекламной концепции следует прежде всего учитывать..(Pelevin, 2018);

  • Metatextual elements with a cataphorical function: Единственное объяснение, которое приходило ему в голову, было следующим… (Pelevin, 2018); И тут случилось непредвиденное.. (Pelevin, 2018);

Metatextual elements with an anaphoric function: Уверенности, как я уже объявил, у меня нет ни в чём.. (Bajtov, 2018); Во-первых, как ясно из вышесказанного, это должна быть неуверенность(курсив автора): эстетическое недоумение, даже некая растерянность, свойственная дилетантизму (Bajtov, 2018);

Metatextual elements that duplicate the actions of the speaker, which the reader can guess in context: Сначала – чтобы сразу пояснить – я обозначу свои эмоции: качество Х неприятно мне. .(Bajtov, 2018) (The reader understands that the speaker explains his attitude to the subject of speech - the quality of "X");

Elements that fulfill the metalanguage function (the language simultaneously becomes both a research object and a research tool): Остаточный литературоцентризм редакторов и издателей – своего рода реликтовый белый шум советской психики (Pelevin, 2018); До чего же это была прекрасная метафора карьерного коммуниста (Pelevin, 2018); Даже мирное слово «дизайнер» (курсив автора) казалось сомнительным неологизмом (Pelevin, 2018);

In linguistics the META component means the most important property of the language - the ability to describe itself, the reflexivity underlying the concept of metatext.

We define the metatext as a complex of linguistic means having as a referent a certain text and serving creation, evaluation and perception of specific speech situations within the framework of this certain text.

We consider it necessary to distinguish:

Metatext of developing a specific situation (clarifying the meaning): Итак, мне придётся назвать его «Х» и совершить вокруг этой искомой, но не называемой смысловой точки нечто вроде ритуального хоровода (словесного, разумеется) (Bajtov, 2018); Он поступил в технический институт – не потому, что любил технику (его специальностью были какие-то электроплавильные печи), а потому что не хотел идти в армию (Pelevin, 2018);

Metatext of commenting a specific situation: А в искусстве вообще уверенность отвратительна: она самодовольна и хамовата (не говоря уж о том, что конечно непродуктивна... вернее, лже-продуктивна) (Pelevin, 2018); СССР, который начали обновлять и улучшать примерно тогда же, когда Татарский решил сменить профессию, улучшился настолько, что перестал существовать (если государство способно попасть в нирвану, это был как раз такой случай) (Pelevin, 2018);

Metatext of evaluative commenting (speaker'sattitude to the situation): Это ещё называется «признанием» (курсив, знаки припинания автора): художника не воспринимали всерьёз, считали его доморощенным и невнятным (как, допустим, импрессионистов во Франции на фоне «Х-вого» чертёжника Энгра) (Bajtov,2018). Of particular interest in this case is the word draftsman - "a specialist in drawing, making drawings" (Efremova, 2018). However, in combination with the proper name Ingres (a precedent personality, an artist, one of the leading masters of the classicist trend in France) it acquires an emotionally negative connotation, manifesting the author's negative attitude toward this precedent personality and the situation as a whole.

  • Metatext of reader’s activation: Вот, например, я часто думал – кто же такой я? (Pelevin, 2015); Странно устроена человеческая психика! В первую очередь ей нужны детали.. (Pelevin, 2015);

Metatext revealing the process of creating a text – a referent text: К сожалению, готовя журнальную версию романа, я был вынужден сократить его почти на треть: ведь журнал "Знамя" не резиновый, а бумажный, и негоже автору пировать на его страницах за счет других своих коллег (Popov, 2003);  Потерял я где-то как-то свою изначальную нить ... Вот свежий тому пример - сижу я сейчас за столом и пытаюсь сочинять, а самому так и хочется поскорее это скорбное занятие оставить (Popov, 2003);


As a result, the metatextual layer of a literary work is quite extensive and heterogeneous. Metatextual elements according to A.Vezhbitska are "foreign" parts in the text, they do not create a separate semantically autonomous text, they are inherent to many texts and fulfill primarily the functions of coherence and clarification of the meaning of a specific situation in the text.

The metatext is most typical for the postmodernism works. This is quite an independent text serving to ensure the global coherence of the text-referent, the development of specific situations within the text, the introduction of text comments, the evaluation of the situation and contributing to the successful interaction of literary communication participants.


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30 April 2018

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Sociolinguistics, linguistics, semantics, discourse analysis, translation, interpretation

Cite this article as:

Prikhoda, I. V. (2018). Types Of Metatexts In The Works Of Some Russian Postmodernism Authors. In & I. V. Denisova (Ed.), Word, Utterance, Text: Cognitive, Pragmatic and Cultural Aspects, vol 39. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 254-259). Future Academy. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2018.04.02.38