Chapter four: Truncated story-listening

In this chapter, a positive account of reader engagement with fiction will developed. According to this picture, the basic reader attitude towards fictional works is imaginative. But, in my view, engagement with fiction does not require any de se imagining on the part of readers; it requires only de dicto and de re imagining. The account of reader engagement is modelled on the attitudes of story-listeners to the stories to which they listen and the performers who tell them. In engaged reading, however, the activity of story-listening is, in an important sense, truncated: reader engagement with the text occurs without the mediation of a storyteller. As a result, readers have to imaginatively supply a substitute – a fictionalized version of the author.
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