The Paradox of Fiction

Authored by: Damien Freeman

The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Literature

Print publication date:  December  2015
Online publication date:  December  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415889728
eBook ISBN: 9781315708935
Adobe ISBN:


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The paradox of fiction is a comparatively recent problem in the philosophy of literature, around which a considerable industry has quickly developed. Although we take for granted that reading a novel, such as Anna Karenina, involves our engaging emotionally with the characters in the novel, Radford (1975) asserts that it does not make sense logically to claim that a reader responds emotionally to Anna Karenina and her travails, when reading the novel. Radford’s claim that it is paradoxical to have an emotional response to a fictitious character was received, by a generation of theorists, as an invitation to demonstrate why an emotional response to a fictional character is not, in principle, paradoxical.

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