Getuigenis en engagement

Algemeen Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Wijsbegeerte 113 (4):565-583 (2021)
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Abstract

Testimony and Engagement: Towards a Re-assessment of the Distinction between Fiction and Non-Fiction in Literary Narratives This article approaches the cognitive value of literary works from the perspective of the distinction between fiction and non-fiction. This examination takes as a starting point the philosophy of Peter Lamarque who bases the distinction between fiction and non-fiction on the intention of the author. I question this position from the perspective of the reader’s experience of a literary text. I argue that the distinction between fiction and non-fiction plays a major role in our appreciation of literary works, but that the intention of the author is not sufficient to account for it. In order to assess the relevance of the distinction between fiction and non-fiction in the reader’s experience of literary narratives, I introduce the notions of testimony and engagement. Testimony narratives are considered to be non-fiction, narratives of engagement are not. In analyzing some aspects of the stories If This Is a Man (Primo Levi), Nausea (Jean-Paul Sartre) and Identitti (Mithu Sanyal), I show that testimony and engagement are both involved, however in different ways, in the reader’s appreciation of these stories.

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Arthur Cools
University of Antwerp

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