In literary criticism, the term fabulation was popularized by Robert Scholes, in his work The Fabulators, to describe the large and growing class of mostly 20th century novels that are in a style similar to magical realism, and do not fit into the traditional categories of realism or (novelistic) romance. They violate, in a variety of ways, standard novelistic expectations by drastic—and sometimes highly successful—experiments with subject matter, form, style, temporal sequence, and fusions of the everyday, fantastic, mythical, and nightmarish, in renderings that blur traditional distinctions between what is serious or trivial, horrible or ludicrous, tragic or comic. To a large extent, fabulism and postmodernism coincide; John Barth, for example, was labeled a fabulist until the term "postmodernism" was coined.
- Robert Scholes, The Fabulators (1967); also expanded upon in Fabulation and Metafiction (1979).
- James M. Mellard, The Exploded Form: The Modernist Novel in America (1980).
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