Macdonald, Margaret. The Language of Fiction
1954, Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 28 (1):165-196.
Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Christy Mag Uidhir
Abstract: The opening sentence of Jane Austen's novel Emma is a sentence from fiction. Emma is a work in which the author tells a story of characters, places and incidents almost all of which she has invented. I shall mean by " fiction " any similar work. For unless a work is largely, if not wholly, composed of what is invented, it will not correctly be called " fiction ". One which contains nothing imaginary may be history, science, detection, biography, but not fiction. I want to ask some questions about how an author uses words and sentences in fiction. But my interest is logical, not literary. I shall not discuss the style or artistic skill of any storyteller. Mine is the duller task of trying to understand some of the logic of fictional language; to determine the logical character of its expressions. How do they resemble and differ from those in other contexts? What are they understood to convey? Are they, e.g., true or false statements? If so, of or about what are they true or false? If not, what other function do they perform? How are they connected? These are the questions I shall chiefly discuss.
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