Interpreting words, interpreting worlds

Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 64 (4):439–450 (2006)
It is often assumed that literary meaning is essentially linguistic in nature and that literary interpretation is therefore a purely linguistic affair. This essay identifies a variety of literary meaning that cannot be reduced to linguistic meaning. Meaning of this sort is generated not by a communicative act so much as through a creative one: the construction of a fictional world. The way in which a fictional world can bear meaning turns out to be strikingly unlike the way a sentence can, and this, I argue, has important implications for the theory of interpretation.
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