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An Introduction to Fictional Worlds Theory


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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II. Fictional worlds as possible worlds


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II. Fictional worlds as possible worlds

1. Preliminary motivations

Fictional worlds semantics builds to a considerable extent on the notion of possible worlds used by logical semantics. The theory of fictional worlds considers fictional worlds to be specific kinds of possible worlds but, at the same time, fictional worlds are determined by their specific qualities arising from their specific status. The main motivation for employing possible worlds for the purpose of a fictional analysis comes from the intuitive assumption (partly derived from concrete examples provided by the same theoreticians of logical discourse) that both possible as well as fictional worlds remain outside the realm of our actual world and that “fictional worlds are concrete constellations of states of affairs which, like possible worlds, are non-actualized in the world” (RONEN 1994: 51). Nevertheless, the question is whether the intuitively felt similarity between possible and fictional worlds makes it worth adjusting the logical discourse to the fictional, with all the difficulties and problems it may cause, in order to reach a valid analytical tool for examining fictional worlds and their structures. Fortunately, it seems that fictional worlds borrow from possible worlds only when profitable. The main profit fictional worlds semantics gains from logical possible worlds is the referential frame: “Possible worlds hence provide a general framework and context for describing the most notable influence of philosophical discourse on the literary theory of fictionality and they supply the grounds for reorienting literary theory toward questions...

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