Friday, 20 March 2015

Books With The Same Title As The Book Within A Book

Yeah, confusing blog title but this occurred to me whilst reading A Clockwork Orange where the title of the novel derives from the title of a book within the novel.
This had me thinking of other examples of works where the title was taken from a book within the book. It's not terribly common (at least in the books I have read) but I can't help thinking I've missed a couple of obvious ones.
The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy
Possibly the most well-known example, Douglas Adams' fantastic comedy science fiction romp is of course based on the radio series of the same name. The novel concerns the (mis) adventures of Arthur Dent who wakes up one morning to find his house being demolished by the council to make way for a bypass then Earth being demolished by aliens as it lies on the route of a hyperspace expressway. Fortunately his friend, Ford Prefect, is also an alien and a researcher for The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, a sort of irreverent electronic encyclopedia of everyone, everywhere and everything in the galaxy.
Adams uses the book as both narrator and as a very slight excuse to get the plot moving and this works well as his sense of the absurd and love for word play can be maximised in the short entries from 'the book' that frequently appear.
The Book Of Ultimate Truths
The first of two novels in this list by the master of far-fetched fiction, Robert Rankin. The Book Of Ultimate Truths sees Cornelius Murphy and Tuppe embark on a series of fairly surreal and unlikely adventures in search of the book of the title, written by the guru's guru, Hugo Rune. Full of the usual quirky humour, in jokes and obscure cultural references this is one of Rankin's best works.
The Greatest Show Off Earth
Another Rankin book but in terms of books-within-a-book I've not come across another where the book and the book it contains are the same. Here the hero receives a copy of the book he is in. Amusingly his attempts to read a part of the book later than the point he is at are always thwarted although other characters have done so and claim to know what happens 'at the end'. A typically strange warping of reality by Rankin into something approaching recursion.

I'm sure there are many more but these are the ones that spring to mind immediately. Needs a term coined for it too, and maybe a hash tag to get it trending on Twitter...

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