Nervous Condition

Meta –fiction in the novel 'Nervous condition' by Tsitsi Dangarembga

Meta-fiction is a feature that is inherent in all novels. It has become prominent in conventional novel writing. Normally language is a very essential tool for bringing out meta-fiction in literary work. There are also other characteristics that typify meta-fiction in literary works a part from language. These characteristics have been captured by Patricia Waughs.

Patricia Waugh's argues that meta-fiction involves the self-conscious aspect of a work of art to discuss the fictional aspects and illusions. She claims that a fictional novel is fundamentally based on an opposition that is sustained particularly on the creation of fiction. Essentially she underscores how such works create fiction and still go ahead to discuss the fiction itself.

From her book, it has been pointed that the language of meta-fiction is self conscious. This in essence is instrumental in giving the novel its identity. The language of meta-fiction used in modern novel writing is by far different from a language used in works such as journals, reports and other documents. ‘Nervous condition’ has a unique language that has been significant in giving the novel its identity. It can therefore be used a justification of the assertion that the novel is meta-fiction. The author chose to speak in the voice of Tambu to illustrate the challenges of inequality that women have had to deal with. Through Tambu and the other characters she manages to bring out three types of women in the society.

Meta-fiction language has a dialogic approach. This has been mentioned in the book to mean that it normally has a collection of speeches that are used to depict a particular situation in the fiction world. Realism is often used to suppress such dialogues in meta-fiction novels. The fact that the author, Tsitsi Dangarembga has managed to voice three types of women in her novel, is an indication that dialogue has been utilized as a major language tool. It is important to mention that dialogue has been instrumental towards making the book a meta-fictional work of art.

Meta-fiction have a unique way of examining the relationship between fiction and social reality.Meta-fiction novels use language in a unique way to distinguish between fictional forms and what is found in the social reality. The three types of women as presented by Tsitsi Dangarembga have been fundamental in establishing the relationship between fictional forms and the reality in the social world. It is only in fiction that the three types of women can exist by virtue of their position being determined by colonialism culture laws and other factors. However in social reality the phenomenon of women being unequal and being left behind is evident. The depiction of such a relationship is instrumental towards giving the novel a meta-fiction outlook.

Patricia has also underscored how meta-fiction novels have a definite ending. This is achieved with the author coming into terms with the reality. Tsitsi Dangarembga has ended the novel in a manner likely to suggest that it is a meta-fictional work. She is observed to be coming into terms with the social reality that women have had to deal with in the course of their interactions with the males in the society. A t the time when the book was being published the social reality of women battling for gender equality was a well known fact as presented in the text.

In conclusion it is worth mentioning that the novel some of the characteristics of meta-fiction as presented by Patricia apply to the novel ‘Nervous condition’. They therefore provide a justification as to why some people have called the novel a meta-fiction of modern realities.

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