Ontological Structure of Literary Fiction

RELATED TERMS: Metalepsis; Actantiality; Affordance;

As noted in the entry for Metalepsis, in the context of literary fiction, the simplest ontological structure has three levels:

In contrast to the reality of the world in which the book is authored and read, the diegesis and the extradiegesis are both fictional.

While constructed as a hierachy, even within literary narratives the relationships among these levels may be complicated. For example, in narrative autobiographies the author, the narrator and the main character coincide.

The ontological structure of the narrative environment is considerably more complicated than a simple hierarchy. The best image for the ontological structure of a narrative environment is that of a tangled hierarchy, with the participant entangled in its field of actantiality-affordances.


Macrae, A. (2019) Discourse deixis in metafiction: the language of metanarration, metalepsis and disnarration. New York, NY: Routledge.

Monteagudo, J. G. (2011) Jerome Bruner and the challenges of the narrative turn. Narrative Inquiry, 21(2), pp. 295–302. doi: 10.1075/ni.21.2.07gon