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An Introduction to Fictional Worlds Theory

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Bohumil Fořt

The author extensively details, analyses and compares key concepts and strategies of fictional worlds theory: a theory which has, over recent years, developed rather rapidly and is connected with leading scholars in the area of literary studies, such as Lubomír Doležel, Umberto Eco, Thomas Pavel, Ruth Ronen, and Marie-Laure Ryan. The book focuses on theoretical suggestions from which the fictional worlds theory borrows its main ideas, that is, logic, semantics, and linguistics. It also examines areas of literary theoretical investigation, in which the fictional world theory has proven itself to be a significant tool for conducting more detailed research, namely intertextuality, fictional and historical narration.
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I. Possible worlds

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I. Possible worlds

1. The notion of possible worlds

The concept of possible worlds is originally connected with the name of Saul Kripke and has become one of the most useful concepts in the field of modern logical semantics. Alvin Plantinga, another prominent logician, straightforwardly asserts that a possible world is “a way things could have been” (PLANTINGA 1974: 44). On the one hand, this general description of the notion of possible worlds sufficiently explains the merit of the notion; on the other, it is general to the extent that it allows almost any approach in the humanities and sciences to adopt it and use it for their own purposes. For now, we can stick to the claim that fictional worlds are (possible) sets of states of affairs; this statement represents the most common and frequent understanding of the term.

The motivation of the development of possible worlds becomes clear when one focuses thoroughly on the most frequently employed description of possible worlds: “The idea is roughly this: we can all imagine that the world we live in could be somewhat different from what it in reality is, and we also seem to be able to talk meaningfully about what would happen if the world were different, as in the following sentence: ‛If it had not rained this morning, we would have gone to the country.’ We can thus say that there are several ‛ways in which the world could...

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