The value of fictional worlds (or why 'the Lord of the rings' is worth reading)

Abstract
Some works of fiction are widely held by critics to have little value, yet these works are not only popular but also widely admired in ways that are not always appreciated. In this paper I make use of Kendall Walton’s account of fictional worlds to argue that fictional worlds can and often do have value, including aesthetic value, that is independent of the works that create them. In the process, I critique Walton’s notion of fictional worlds and offer a defense of the study and appreciation of fictional worlds, as distinguished from the works of fiction with which they are associated.
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