The Problem Of The Fictive Stance

Postgraduate Journal of Aesthetics 5 (1):27-36 (2008)
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Briefly sketched, I argue for four interrelated claims: (a) Works of fiction can be based upon non-fictional content and can therefore relate directly to the world and portray truth even when the author explicitly intends to portray the content as fiction. (b) The nature of truth is such that an event is true or not irrespective of the content it is expressed or engaged in. Thus if something is true this is so regardless of whether the author intended it, or whether the reader encounters it, fictively or not. (c) The truth-value of claims encountered in fiction can be, and often is, relevant to interpretation of that fiction qua fiction. (Two observations are relevant here: (i) Most authors of fiction intend to make truth claims in their works to be recognised as true by their readers. (ii) Truth claims encountered in fiction can be relevant for the development of the fictive story line and fictive characters encountered.) (d) By mixing fiction and truth, the authors demand that the reader adopt multiple stances and therefore the idea that the reader must decide whether to read a piece of literature as fiction or truth, is implausible.


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