I’m not even sure how to explain what I mean by “this”. Basically it’s referring to themselves in the third person as objectively existing within the confines of the novel.
An example: I was reading *The Body in the Library * by Agatha Christie last night. At one point one of the characters enthuses about how much he loves reading detective stories and says something like “I’ve got autographs from all of the top writers like John Dickson Carr and Agatha Christie”. For some reason this comment jarred, even apart from the slightly distasteful self-congratulatory note. It just seemed really strange.
‘Good As Gold’ by Joseph Heller contains a similar twist, but in an extended and more elaborate form. I can’t say more without spoiling it, but it’s an excellent book, shorter and easier to read than the two Heller efforts that preceded it, very funny and very ingenious. So you might enjoy checking it out.
I don’t know of any other examples off the top of my head, but I know that there are authors who have done this. I think quite a few sci-fi writers have used this device - but more knowledgeable sources than I will be along shortly to provide examples.
Absent those writers who actually include themselves in the story (normally by relating it as if it were a “true” event which they are just describing), quite a lot of science fiction writers, especially those whose stories are set in the future, throw in references to themselves and to other authors. I’m pretty sure there’s a ship named The Arthur C. Clarke in one of Larry Niven’s books, and I think he refers to himself somewhere in the same volume in a similar way.
Stan Lee and Jack Kirby frequently wrote themselves into the pages of their comic books, most often Fantastic Four. John Byrne did it once as well (though that was a month in which all books contained a humorous element), and Mark Waid sort-of did.
Possibly the most egregious example is Isaac Asimov’s “murder at the ABA”, where he put himself in as a minor character in the book, and even slowly establishes the backstory that Isaac had to go to a convention under orders to write a murder mystery about it, and that when an author of his vague acquaintance (the protagonist of the book) becomes embroiled in a real-life murder, the acquaintance will write up his notes once the case is solved, and Isaac will edit them into his book.
Harlan Ellison is another sci-fi writer who does this, from time to time, in his 70s and 80s writing. “The Hour That Stretches”, in which he saves the world from a hostile disembodied alien intelligence who manifests as a call-in radio talk show listener; and he’s also the thinly disguised lead character in “Repent, Harlequin! Said the Ticktockman.”
Marvel Comics staffers generally did this more often that their counterparts at DC. Besides the aforementioned Stan Lee and Jack Kirby issues, there’re stories with Jim Shooter, Roy Thomas, and (of course) John Byrne. Though I can’t say that the narrative is third person.
Comic book writer Grant Morrison memorably did this a few times in ANIMAL MAN (again, not always in the third person.) Alan Moore frequently visually inserts himself into the background narrative, though it’s not always clear whether he did so directly in the script or if its a sudden whim of the artist.
Third person is such a weird affectation to do this sort of thing in.
Honorable mention to Stephen King, who wrote “Thinner” under the alias of Richard Bachman – and had his protagonist try to convince folks that there’s an authentic gypsy curse in operation by comparing their situation to, well, a Stephen King novel, of course.
Pitt runs into a Clive Cussler (who gives his name) in the book “Sahara” (although not the movie)
Philip Jose Farmer used to put very thinly-disguised versions of himself, with his own initials, in his novels. Peter Jairus Frigate, for instance, features in his Riverworld series. He’s got another matching-initial clone in his World of Tiers series.
It’s not exactly the same, but in one of Gardner’s James Bond novels, Bond mentions watching the movie The Untouchables, which starred a Scottish actor that he liked. In the Ian Fleming novel On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Bond sees actress Ursula Andress skiing in Switzerland, with a marvelous sun tan. Andress was, at the time of writing, getting a tan while filming the first Bond movie, Dr. No.
Well, the web comic Bob and George, ostensibly a parody of the Mega Man series of videogames, routinely has the Author (Dave Anez) personally appear in and interact with the characters. As the author of the comic, no less.
But then again, breaking the fourth wall is a fundamental concept of the comic. One of the major ongoing plotlines has to do with the question of why the author would allow all the awful things that happen to the characters occur; or when he is directly involved in things, why he doesn’t just will everything to go as he pleases? Obviously this could be said to be an allegory for questioning the existence of god, especially in light of the fact that Mr. Anez’ full-time job is as a physics teacher. But frankly, most of the writing is him following threads based on some idea he found interesting, and occasionally introduces convoluted plot-lines featuring time travel to explain away plot holes introduced earlier. Dave Anez himself has pointed this out and joked about it several times, even in the comic.
I’d like to point out that it is the first sprite comic, though it was somewhat accidental (they were originally meant to be filler until he began the main comic, but he decided they were better). Technically, there was a comic (Neglected Mario Characters)that preceeded BnG, but Anez made his comics without knowledge of it, and his are the ones upon which the phenomenon grew.
oh yeah. i’m trying to remember the names of the writing duo who regularly plug their books. in their other books.
ah, yes – Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. in their Special Agent Pendergast series, they not only have one of the characters allegedly having written books about the adventures they experienced in prior books, but they even throw in titles of some of their other books as ones that characters are reading for entertainment.
that was a bit disconcerting, the first time i ran into that.
but dang, they still write bang-up stories as far as i’m concerned. can’t wait for the next installment.
Stephen King’s very self-referential. He appears most notably in the final books of The Dark Tower series (to his detriment, in my opinion; like Cunctator, when I see this, it jolts me out of the book, presumably an effect authors would want to avoid), but I think I remember him referring to himself in other books as well.
Then, of course, there’s the numerous mentions of the Castle Rock universe that you’ll find sprinkled througout his books. For example, he’s made references to the rabid St. Bernard, shiny-eyed clown in drains, and crazy killing car in books that aren’t Cujo, It, or Christine.
The technique is often called metafiction. I love it.
John Barth is one of the fictional correspondents in his novel Letters.
I believe Asimov’s “Pate de Fois Gras” has Asimov as part of the story, purportedly writing it as fiction so the narrator can find a solution to his problem.
Heinlein refers to himself in "And He Built a Crooked House . . . " as “The Original Hermit of Hollywood.” The house in the story is situated across the street from Heinlein’s actual house at the time.
I seem to remember Ian Fleming put himself in one of his novels – perhaps The Spy Who Loved Me. The conceit was that he was contacted by a woman who met the real James Bond and who told him the story.
I once had a story published (“First Draft” in Tales of the Unanticipated) where I was the main character and the story was about the writing of the story.
In film, my favorite was in The King of Comedy, where film director Martin Scorsese plays the director of Jerry Langford’s TV show. At one point, Tony Randall says to Scorsese, “You’re the director. Tell me what to do.”