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Truth, Fiction, and LiteratureA Philosophical Perspective$
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Peter Lamarque and Stein Haugom Olsen

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9780198236818

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198236818.001.0001

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Reference and ‘About’

Reference and ‘About’

Chapter:
5 Reference and ‘About’
Source:
Truth, Fiction, and Literature
Author(s):

Peter Lamarque

Stein Haugom Olsen

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198236818.003.0005

This chapter examines different kinds of referential or quasi-referential relations compatible with fiction (fictive utterance, the fictive stance). While acknowledging that such referential relations do obtain, thereby rejecting non-reference and anti-reference views, the chapter resists the stronger claim that reference is somehow indispensable to literary fiction or is an indicator of literary value. A modest pro-reference position does nothing to support traditional conceptions of ‘literary truth’. Of far greater significance for literary fiction than reference is ‘aboutness’. To speak of what a work is about is not equivalent to speaking of its references. The discussion of ‘aboutness’ in the literary context shows that what a work is about not only helps to determine its value but is connected with its very status as a work of literature.

Keywords:   referential relations, fiction, fictive utterance, fictive stance, literary truth, aboutness

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