Many people know Stephen King such as master of terror, or any other flashy nickname related to this kind of story. But not everyone knows that the Maine author's novels are much more than they seem. When one begins to read and investigate his work, one realizes the subtle and elaborate connections that exist between some titles and others, in addition to all those moments in which, with greater or lesser success, he breaks the fourth wall.
A lot can be said about King, but no one denies that the guy is charismatic and ambitious. He wouldn't have gotten to where he is if he hadn't been. As for the artistic value of his work, I prefer not to discuss the subject, or at least not in this article. Suffice it to say that although I hold his books in high regard, I recognize that they are not perfect, and they have their lights and shadows. So we will focus on the metaliterary character and intertextuality of his novels.
"'Those stories are called' fairy tales, '" Roland mused.
"Aha," Eddie replied.
"But there are no fairies in this one."
"No," Eddie admitted. It is more of a category. In our world there are stories of mystery and suspense, science fiction, the West, fairies ... You know?
"Yes," Roland replied. Do people in your world prefer to savor stories one at a time? That they do not mix with other flavors on the palate?
"More like yes," said Susannah.
"Don't you like refried?" Asked Roland.
"Sometimes for dinner," Eddie replied, "but when it comes to entertainment we tend to limit ourselves to just one flavor and don't let one thing mix with another on our plate." Although it sounds a bit boring when explained that way. "
Stephen King, "The Dark Tower V: Wolves of Calla".
The first of all would be to define what it means metaliterature. In simple words, and without getting too technical, it is use one's own literature to talk about literature. The quote on these lines is a perfect example, where King's characters themselves discuss different literary genres, and the appropriateness or not of making pastiches of them.
These passages of metafiction are not sporadic, but an integral part of Stephen King's literary world. The author uses them repeatedly to reflect on the writing profession, the creative process, and the unique characteristics of narrative as a form of artistic expression. So much so, that even the novelist himself becomes a character in his books, and appears several times as a "god" who gives birth to other worlds without knowing it. Something that not all his characters take very well, feeling like puppets in their hands.
Moreover, the intertextuality is, in the words of the critic and writer Gerard genette, «A relationship of co-presence between two or more texts, that is, eidetically and frequently, as the actual presence of one text in another. » This can happen in many ways, but in the case in question we are talking about when King establishes relationships, or even quotes another of his works in his book.
This is the case in The Dark Tower, the pillar that establishes the artistic production of the writer. Any Stephen King book is related in one way or another to this epic saga, either thematically, with common scenarios, etc. For example, the father Donald frank callahan (a priest with alcohol problems, and the protagonist of King's second novel, Salem's Lot mystery, vampiric-themed work), reappears as a secondary, with considerable weight in the plot, in the last three volumes of The Dark Tower.
This is just one very striking example, but we could cite many others: references to the antagonist of It (That), to room 217 of The glowOr this Randall flagg (also called the man in black), arch enemy of the protagonist of The Dark Tower, be the black hand behind the vast majority of terrifying Stephen King stories. The cases are innumerable, and they only wait for a sagacious reader to discover them.