Assertions in Literary Fiction

Minerva 13:144-180 (2009)
In this paper, I shall examine two types of assertions in literary narrative fiction: direct assertions and those I call literary assertions. Direct assertions put forward propositions on a literal level and function as the author’s assertions even if detached from their original context and applied in so-called ordinary discourse. Literary assertions, in turn, intertwine with the fictional discourse: they may be, for instance, uttered by a fictional character or refer to fictitious objects and yet convey the author’s genuine assertions. The structure of the paper is twofold. The first, descriptive part is a question–answer type of discussion in which I shall introduce general philosophical arguments against assertions in fiction and present counter-arguments to them, paving the road to my account of literary assertions. In the second, argumentative part, in turn, I shall examine the nature of literary assertions, such as their semantic and ‘aspectival’ characteristics and their peculiar illocutionary force as well as the reader’s stance toward them.
Keywords literature  fiction  assertion  truth  truth-claim
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