Speech acts and fictionality

A common approach to drawing boundary between fiction and non-fiction is by appeal to the kinds of speech acts performed by authors of works of the respective categories. Searle, for example, takes fiction to be the product of illocutionary pretense of various kinds on the part of authors and non-fiction to be the product of genuine illocutionary action.1 Currie, in contrast, takes fiction to be the product of sui generis fictional illocutionary action on the part of authors and non-fiction to be the product of assertion and other familiar kinds of illocutionary action.2 The central thesis of this paper is that the speech act approach to fictionality is simply a non-starter. Now it is, of course, commonplace to note that approaches of this kind run into difficulty accommodating nonliterary fictions3 and uncomposed or authorless fictions. What will be argued here, however, is that speech acts analyses are inadequate even understood narrowly as accounts of composed literary fiction. And the reason is that they fail to adequately attend to the distinction between composition and storytelling.
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