Although metafiction has been the subject of much critical and theoretical writing, this is the first full-length study of its place in Soviet literature. Focusing on metafictional works by Leonid Leonov, Marietta Shaginyan, Konstantin Vaginov, and Veniamin Kaverin, it examines, within a broadly Bakhtinian theoretical framework, the relationship between their self-consciousness and their cultural and political context. The texts are shown to challenge notions about the nature and function of literature fundamental to both Soviet and Anglo-American criticism. In particular, although metafictional strategies may seem designed to confirm assumptions about the aesthetic autonomy of the literary text, their effect is to reveal the shortcomings of such assumptions. The texts discussed take us beyond conventional understandings of metafiction by highlighting the need for a theoretically informed account of the history and reception of Soviet literature in which the inescapability of politics and ideology is no longer acknowledged grudgingly, but is instead celebrated.