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Disputable Core Concepts of Narrative Theory

Edited By Göran Rossholm and Christer Johansson

The present volume is a contribution to the theory of narrative by scholars from various disciplines, mainly scholars from Comparative Literature but also contributors from Philosophy, Psychology and the languages. The essays focus on central terms and concepts in narrative theory over the last forty years. Established narratological concepts, such as narrative, narrator, story, fiction, character, narrative (un)reliability and point of view, but also relational concepts motivated by the expansion of narratology, such as narrative and non-verbal media, narrative and personal identity and narrative and literary genre, are themes dealt with.
In addition to presenting a critical examination of the core concepts of narrative theory, the volume is a demonstration of the vigour of contemporary Nordic narrative theory. The authors work at universities in Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Norway and Sweden, and they all belong to the Nordic Network of Narrative Studies.


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STAFFAN CARLSHAMRE - Is There Ever a Happy Ending? 45


45 STAFFAN CARLSHAMRE Is There Ever a Happy Ending? Many stories are fictions, but others are not. Of those that are not, some are true and some are false. With regard to fictional stories the question of truth does not arise, or at least not in the same way – although we are sometimes told of a fiction that it is “based on a true story”. But what does it mean for a factual story to be true or false? It seems obvious that we judge stories in terms of truth and falsity, and that we readily accept the notion that some stories are true. Nevertheless, there are narrative skeptics, eloquent and insist- ent philosophers that argue that, strictly speaking, a story is never true: narrativity implies fictionality.1 Of course, fictional stories in the standard sense are stories for which no truth claims are made, and for that reason it seems petty to accuse them of falsity either. But it is not in this sense that the narrative sceptic takes narrativity to imply fictionality – historians generally aim for the truth in the sto- ries they tell, but even stories purporting to be factual are, in reality, fictional says the sceptic. Denying their own fictionality is just one more way in which such stories falsify reality: factual stories claim to tell the truth, and at least in this claim they are false. Nobody denies, of course, that there may be elements of truth and falsity in a story. On 9/11 2001, the...

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