Philosophy of Literature: An Introduction

Philosophy of Literature: An Introduction

Christopher New

Language: English

Pages: 151


Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Literature, like the visual arts, poses its own philosophical problems. While literary theorists have discussed the nature of literature intensively, analytic philosophers have usually dealt with literary problems either within the general framework of aesthetics or else in a way that is accessible only to a philosophical audience. The present book is unique in that it introduces the philosophy of literature from an analytic perspective accessible to both students of literature and students of philosophy. Specifically, the book addresses: the definition of literature, the distinction between oral and written literature and the identity of literary works
the nature of fiction and our emotional involvement with fictional characters
the concept of imagination and its role in the apprehension of literary works
theories of metaphor and postmodernist theory on the significance of the authors' intentions to the interpretationof their work
an examination of the relevance of thruth and morality to literary appreciation
Lucid and well organised and free from jargon,
hilosophy of Literature: An Introduction offers fresh approaches to traditional problems and raises new issues in the philosophy of literature.















writes one work of fiction with his personal observations in it. No doubt a work in which the number of nonfictional sentences vastly outweighed the number of fictional ones would not qualify as a work of fiction. But there is no magic number, no exact proportion, where we cross the border. There might be cases in which we would be unsure whether to classify a discourse as fiction, even though we were perfectly sure that more than half of its sentences were fictional, and the reason would be that

with a different phrasing from the one we know the composer would have given it (but did not give in the score), if that makes the passage go better. In the first case, he would be changing the music the composer wrote; in the second, interpreting it differently from how the composer would have interpreted it. There is of course nothing wrong in itself with changing the notes or the phrasing in the score – but that, while it might make for better music, would not be a legitimate variant of the

things, to present interesting, sympathetic and convincing characters in doomed situations, whether or not the actual world is as his novels imply it is. In Graham Greene’s novel It’s A Battlefield, a gloomy and negative view is implied of the social and political situation in London in the 1930s. The truth or falsity of that view – or our perception of it as true or false – is one, but it is not the only, nor even perhaps, the major, factor in our assessment of the novel’s success. Perhaps the

are equally irrelevant, such as the timbre or volume of the voice, the style of the handwriting, the colour of the ink or the size of the type face. What constitutes the sequence of motions as a move in chess is the rules of the game, just as what constitutes the sequence of sounds or inscriptions as a statement is the rules of the language. Finally, making a move in chess is not something over and above performing the motions involved in lifting the piece and putting it down; it is performing

INDEX 26 Olsen, S. H.: on social practice definition of literature 33–4; and Peter Lamarque on unconscious recall 50 oral and written literature 5–8 originals: 8; and copies 8–17 self-deception 60 similes 85–6, 91 speech acts, theory of 25–6, 94 Sperber, Dan, and Deirdre Wilson on irony 42 Spoonerisms 97–8 structuralism 23–4 subjectivism 124, 126, 130–3 suspension of disbelief 58–9 para-illocutionary acts 45, 81, 93–4 perlocutionary acts 94 Plato on censorship 121 play: verbal 29; and

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