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Literature / This Is the Title of This Story

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"This Is the Title of This Story, Which Is Also Found Several Times in the Story Itself" is a 1982 story by David Moser composed of self-referential sentences. It appeared in Douglas Hofstadter's Scientific American column "Metamagical Themas," and was later reprinted in the book collecting his columns. It can also be found elsewhere online.

It begins:

"This is the first sentence of this story. This is the second sentence. This is the title of this story, which is also found several times in the story itself. This sentence is questioning the intrinsic value of the first two sentences. This sentence is to inform you, in case you haven't already realized it, that this is a self-referential story, that is, a story containing sentences that refer to their own structure and function. This is a sentence that provides an ending to the first paragraph."

This is the list of tropes of which "This Is the Title of This Story, Which Is Also Found Several Times in the Story Itself" provides examples:

  • Apologises a Lot:
    "The purpose. Of this paragraph. Is to apologize. For its gratuitous use. Of. Sentence fragments. Sorry."
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick:
    "This sentence is telling you that Billy is blond and blue-eyed and American and twelve years old and strangling his mother."
  • Book Ends:
    "This sentence can either serve as the beginning of the paragraph or the end, depending on its placement"
  • Department of Redundancy Department:
    "...other signs of inexcusably sloppy grammar like unneeded superfluous redundancies..."
  • Lampshade Hanging
  • Long Title
  • Oedipus Complex:
    "This sentence, however, succeeds, in that it suggests a possible incestuous relationship between Billy and his mother and alludes to the concomitant Freudian complications any astute reader will immediately envision. Incest. The unspeakable taboo. The universal prohibition. Incest."
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  • Self-Deprecation: As well as several sentences that exist purely to apologise for the condition of the story, there's also one that refers to Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis as a much better story, and one that refers to the author as an "indolent goof-off" for not buckling down and actually telling the story of Billy and his mother.
  • Shaped Like Itself
  • Terse Talker
    " A sentence fragment. Another. Good device. Will be used more later."
  • [Trope Name]