Rabelais, Cervantes and Laurence Sterne were, each one independently, inventors of the “metanovel” in the modern sense… But it was Sterne, with his “Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman” (1759), who took advantage of the punctuation and of the typographical signs as part of the narrative devices, and who also incorporated the materiality of the book into the novel itself, by inserting a marbled page inside the text, and even a totally black page, after inviting the reader to chant “Alas, poor Yorick!” in a “variety of plaintive tones”…


The Black Page is also one of the most splendidly complicated modern musical creations… it is a piece by the late Frank Zappa… Certainly a clin d’oeil to Sterne… Here it is (partially):