In Deathly Hallows, Mr Lovegood recited The Tale of the Three Brothers. Up to that moment I was being thrilled with the adventures of our heroic trio. When Lovegood finished the story, I was so enchanted with it that it momentarily whisked my thoughts away from the main story.
So, what other novels can you think of that contain a complete fictional story told by a fictional character in a novel. And secondly, how would you rate it in comparison to the wonderful "Tale of three brothers". I scanned my book shelves to think of an example but I couldnt find any!
Actually, this sort of metafiction is quite common, not only in books, but also in movies (for example "The Princess Bride" is also a story that is told within the frame of a fictional story - a grandfather telling the story to his grandson). The first story that came into mind is the oldest of them all - Arabian Nights.
Good point R manor, but I am thinking more on the lines of where the metafiction is not the dominant story of the whole book. Princess Bride (was this a novel, anyway?) had the metafiction being 95% dominant, the story frame was simply a grandfather reading a book to his impatient grandson. That format, I agree, is very common.
So ok, I'll refine the rules ;) The metafiction should not be the dominant story of the book. It must be told by from either a fictional character or fictional author. We talking strictly books. Not movies.
I think I have an example but havent actually read it. The Body, one of 4 short stories in Different Seasons by Stephen King. One of the boys tell a story about Lardass and the pie contest. Now the movie adaption of this boy's tale was funny and disgusting, can the same be said for the version in the book? If so, would you rate is better/worse than Beedle?
A brilliant childrens book which I just finished re-reading 'The Solitaire Mystery' by Jostein Gaarder has a storybook within a storybook, and also a story within a story within a story. Its very good, very philosophical and cute.
On the note of Jostein Gaarder, I thought I would put in a timely mention for his Christmas Mystery. I bought this in the 90's in Norwegian when I was living in Norway and used to read a chapter a day throughout advent every Christmas (its like a literary advent calender). Its a beautiful book with two stories running through it, one at present day level and the other at the time of Jesus' birth. The two stories slowly converge time-wise. Its nearly time to climb into the attic to get it down but I might be tempted to get the English translation from Amazon so that my younger, non-Norwegian-speaking kids can enjoy it...