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Fictionalizing the World

Rethinking the Politics of Literature

Edited By Louisa Söllner and Anita Vržina

The book offers ten essays which explore the interaction between literature and politics. The authors investigate a variety of genres including young-adult fiction, national poetry, novels, autobiography, and performance art from different time periods ranging from the 18 th up to the 21 st century from the Americas, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. Grouped in three sections, the essays focus on the relationship between fiction and identity; the creation of spaces of/in fiction; and the interplay of irony and fiction. They reveal that fiction has a fundamental potential not only to react to but also to affect and shape the world. This offers a possibility to negotiate and re-imagine the ways in which we perceive the world and position ourselves within it.
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Some book titles win over readers through their transparency. The title of this collection is not one of them. Fictionalizing the World, while seemingly obvious at first glance, is rather a title that leaves questions open, instead of providing answers. It seems to postulate the existence of two separate realms – “fiction” on the one hand, and “the world” on the other. Yet, there are many ways to understand the proposition that “the world” is exposed to acts or processes of fictionalization. One way is to understand fictionalization as another form of representing the world. This is based on the assumption that fiction acts as a mirror in which the world as we know it is articulated, criticized, deconstructed, or affirmed. Understood this way, fiction is a derivative realm that emerges in response to the spaces constituting the world. While fiction may reflect on these spaces, it at the same time remains confined within its own boundaries. A second way to read the title is to envision fictionalization as a more transgressive activity, one that gives fiction a certain power of agency. Instead of remaining within its borders, fiction thus becomes part of the dynamics that create and affect the world. The idea that fiction leaks into, infects, or colonizes the world is frequently explored in fiction itself. It can be imagined as a disorienting condition in which all ties to reality are lost, or it can be seen as a utopian condition of endless liberties.


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