Metalepsis and Intermediality. Into the Screen, Beyond the Adaptation in Lost in Austen

  • Donata Meneghelli Università di Bologna
Keywords: Lost in Austen, Metalepsis, Adaptation, Ontology, Superimposition/Dissolve


The essay tackles the role of the metalepsis in relation to the paradigm shift from the window era to the screen era. Metalepsis here is defined as a literary and artistic device which conflates different narrative levels, allowing illicit circulation between what is given as ‘real’ and what is given as fictional in a fiction. Starting from the above mentioned paradigm shift (from representation to vision, from a single and fixed image to a multiplicity of moving spaces), as well as McHale’s conceptualization of modernism and postmodernism as linked – respectively – to epistemological and ontological concerns, the metalepsis is read as a symptom or an index of broader changes. An important but on the whole marginal device before postmodernism, it acquires a capital function in postmodern poetics, as a means to dramatize ontological issues. In the contemporary context, metalepsis can be found everywhere, especially in pop culture, and has undergone a process of banalization, turning into a cliché and losing its most provocative traits. However, in this historical phase, in which the text has become an intermedial construct, metalepsis seems to have acquired new functions, as a means to problematize the relationships between different media, different cultural-technological environments, watching and reading, convergence, and so forth, on and through the screen. Along these lines, by analysing the ITV miniseries Lost in Austen, the notion of metalepsis is used as a tool to investigate and challenge what has been traditionally conceived as adaptation.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biography

Donata Meneghelli, Università di Bologna

Donata Meneghelli teaches Comparative Literature and Literature and Visual Studies at the Universityof Bologna. She is member of the European network LACE (Literature and Change in Europe, see:, of the PhD programme in “Moderne Languages, Literatures and Cultures” at the University of Bologna, and of the directive board of the international PhD Programme in Comparative Studies at the University of Lisbon ( Her interests focus on the theory and history of the novel, modernism, intermediality, adaptation and rewriting, narratology, literature and visual cultre. She has published in a range of scholarly journals and essay collections on topics including cinematic and TV adaptation, fan fiction and remix, literature and photography, narrative theory, Henry James, the Nouveau roman, migrant literature, literary history. She is chief editor of the Italian journal Scritture migranti (together with Fulvio Pezzarossa) and director of the research Center for Literary Theory and Comparative Studies (Ce.TelC) at the University of Bologna. Amongst her publications: Una forma che include tutto (Bologna: 1997), Teorie del punto di vista (selected, ed. and intr. Firenze: 1998) Storie proprio così. Il racconto nell’era della narratività totale (Milano: 2012), Senza fine. Sequel, prequel, altre continuazioni (Milano: 2018).  


Alberti, Leon Battista, De la peinture / De Pictura, Ed. Jean-Lous Schefer, Paris, Macula, 1992.

Borges, Jorge-Luis, Otras inquisiciones (1960), trad. it. Altre inquisizioni, Milano, Feltrinelli, 1973.

Carbone, Mauro, Filosofia-schermi, Milano, Raffaele Cortina, 2016

Collins, Jim, Bring on the Books for Everybody. How Literary Culture Became Popular Culture, Durham and London, Duke University Press, 2010.

Damisch, Hubert, L’Origine de la perspective (1987), trad. it. L’origine della prospettiva, Napoli, Guida, 1992.

Eco, Umberto, Lector in fabula. La cooperazione interpretativa nei testi narrativi, Milano, Bompiani, 1979.

Fludernik, Monica, “Scene Shift, Metalepsis, and the Metaleptic Mode”, Style, 37 (2003): 382-400.

Friedberg, Anne, The Virtual Window. From Alberti to Mycrosoft, Cambridge, Mass. and London, The MIT Press, 2006.

Genette, Gérard, Figures III. Discours du récit (1972), trad. it. Figure III. Discorso del racconto, Torino, Einaudi, 1976.

Genette, Gérard, Nouveau discours du récit (1983), trad. it. Nuovo discorso del racconto, Torino, Einaudi, 1987.

Genette, Gèrard, Métalepse. De la figure à la fiction, Paris, Seuil, 2004.

Hutcheon, Linda, A Theory of Adaptation (2006), trad. it. Teoria degli adattamenti, Roma, Armando, 2011.

Jameson, Fredric, Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (1991), trad. it. Postmodernismo o la logica culturale del tardo capitalismo, Roma, Fazi, 2007.

Jenkins, Henry, Convergence Culture (2006), trad. it. Cultura convergente, Milano, Apogeo, 2007.

Kukkonen, Karin – Klimek, Sonia, “Metalepsis in Popular Cuture: An Introducion”, Metalepsis in Popular Culture, Eds. Karin Kukkonen – Sonia Klimek, Berlin, de Gruyter, 2011, pp. 1-21.

Lavocat, Françoise, Fait et fiction. Pour un frontière, Paris, Seuil, 2016.

Maas, Sander van, “Opening the Audiobook”, Comparative Literature, special issue The Material Turn in Comparative Literature, 70.3 (2018): 337-356.

McHale, Brian, Postmodernist Fiction, London, Methuen, 1987.

Meneghelli, Donata, Senza fine. Sequel, prequel, altre continuazioni: il testo espanso, Milano, Morellini, 2018.

Pier, John - Schaeffer, Jean-Marie (eds.), Métalepses. Entorses au pacte de la représentation, Paris, Éd. de l’EHESS, 2005.

Pinto, Page, “Replacing Jane: Fandom and Fidelity in Dan Zeff’s Lost in Austen”, persuasion-online, 37.1 (2016).

Ridout, Alice, “Lost in Austen: Adaptation and the Feminist Politics of Nostalgia”, Adaptation, 4.1 (2010): 14-27.

Robbe-Grillet, Alain, “Sur quelques notions périmées”, Pour un nouveau roman, Paris, Minuit, 1961: 25-44.

Ryan, Marie-Laure, “Logique culturelle de la métalepse, ou la métalepse dans tous ses états”, Métalepses. Entorses au pacte de la représentation, Eds. John Pier - Jean-Marie Schaeffer, Paris, Éd. de l’EHESS, 2005: 201-224.

Ryan, Marie-Laure, Avatars of Story, London – Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 2006.

Tenen, Dennis, Plain Text: The Poetics of Computation, Stanford, Stanford University Press, 2017, Kindle edition.

Tigges, Wim, “Lost in Austen: A Postmodern Reanimation of Pride and Prejudice”, persuasion-online, vol. 39, n. 1, 2018.

Turk, Tisha, “Metalepsis in Fan Vids and Fan Fiction”, Metalepsis in Popular Culture, Eds. Karin Kukkonen – Sonia Klimek, Berlin, de Gruyter, 2011: 83-103.

Wolf, Werner, “Metalepsis as a Transgeneric and Transmedial Phenomenon: A Case Study of the Possibilities of ‘Exporting’ Narratological Concepts”, Narratology beyond Literary Criticism: Mediality, Disciplinarity, Ed. Jean Cristoph Meister, Berlin, de Gruyter, 2005.

How to Cite
Meneghelli, D. (2018). Metalepsis and Intermediality. Into the Screen, Beyond the Adaptation in <em>Lost in Austen</em&gt;. Between, 8(16).