Vol. 2 No. 2 (2022)
Research Article

The Art of Annotation: Documentariness and Play in Péter Esterházy’s A Novel of Production

Gábor Tamás Molnár
Eötvös Loránd University

Published 2023-03-08 — Updated on 2023-03-08



  • annotation in fiction,
  • metafiction,
  • postmodernism,
  • documentariness,
  • semiotics

How to Cite

Molnár, Gábor Tamás. 2023. “The Art of Annotation: Documentariness and Play in Péter Esterházy’s A Novel of Production”. Central European Cultures 2 (2):52-73. https://doi.org/10.47075/CEC.2022-2.04.


This paper aims to interpret the process of self-documentation in Péter Esterházy’s A Novel of Production (1979), an important Hungarian novel which utilizes extensive endnotes to link a parodic narrative to a body of fictionalized autobiographical commentary. Drawing on theories of play and self-reflexivity as well as critical studies on the history of annotation in nonfiction and fiction, the article presents the structure of Esterházy’s novel and elucidates some textual connections between seemingly disconnected parts. The interpretation focuses on a storyline involving the attempted signing of the fictionalized author, also a lower-league football player, by a club bigger than his current one. The article argues that this narrative demonstrates the intersection of several thematic levels and discourses within the narrative, including football, finance, politics and literature—and illustrates the way in which a complex reality is modeled by the intersections and mutual displacement of competing discourses or fields of play. In conclusion, the article considers the role of self-documentation and self-commentary in the process of semiotic modeling, and links Esterházy’s creative method to Greimas’s semiotic square.