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The Mirror in the Text
by Lucien Dällenbach
translated by Jeremy Whitely
University of Chicago Press, 1989
Cloth: 978-0-226-13491-8
Library of Congress Classification PN3355.D2313 1989
Dewey Decimal Classification 808.3

The Mirror in the Text is concerned with the literary and artistic device of mise en abyme, the use of an element within a work which mirrors the work as a whole—like the 'play within a play' in Hamlet.

In this classic study, Lucien Dällenbach provides the first systematic analysis of this device and its literary and artistic applications from Van Eyck and Velasquez to Gide, Beckett and the French nouveau roman.

Alongside this wealth of examples, Dällenbach constructs his theoretical argument with elegance and clarity, assuming no previous knowledge of arcane and specialized theory, but guiding the reader helpfully through the maze of literary criticism. The result is a new conceptual field, a new grammar of the mise en abyme, and an examination of its function within the work of art and literature.

The highly original study has been acclaimed as one of the most important works of contemporary literary theory. It will be of interest to all students of English and European literature, as well as to students of the visual arts.

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