Self-reference is a common feature found in post-modern literature1. But I find it interesting that earlier authors played around with some elements of self-reference. One famous example is Don Quixote, which purports to be a translation of a real text that Cervantes discovered. This allows Cervantes to introduce his own judgments and (often amusing) criticisms at the characters. Another amusing instance I recently read in Elmer Gantry, wherein Sinclair Lewis has the title character express his dislike for satirical writing:
I know that if you could lose your intellectual pride, if you could forget that you have to make a new world, better’n the creator’s, right away tonight–you and Bernard Shaw and H. G. Wells and H. L. Mencken and Sinclair Lewis (Lord, how that book of Lewis’, Main Street, did bore me, as much of it as I read; it just rambled on forever, and all he could see was that some of the Gopher Prairie hicks didn’t go to literary teas quite as often as he does!–that was all he could see among those splendid heroic pioneers)!