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The aesthetically-minded works of Vladimir Nabokov and John Barth examine the relationship between aesthetics and ethics, but their ethics represent historically informed responses to their authors' political situations. The historiographic metafictions of Philip Roth find Ishmael Reed, on the other hand, offer both alternate histories and alternate theories of history. The fantastic metafictions of Kurt Vonnegut and Marilynne Robinson exploit the hesitation between natural and supernatural explanations of events in order to deconstruct dominant conceptions of reality, and Thomas Pynchon's encyclopedic metafictions provide cognitive maps of developing industrialized capitalism.
These works formally enact the political arguments that their content at times seems to deny and provide what Marxist critics like Fredric Jameson and F. W. Adorno have long sought---works that account for their own historical construction at the same time as they attempt to subvert the existing social order.