Narrative and Imagination

Peter Lamarque and Stein Haugom Olsen

in Truth, Fiction, and Literature

Published in print October 1996 | ISBN: 9780198236818
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191679377 | DOI:

Series: Clarendon Library of Logic and Philosophy

Narrative and Imagination

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This chapter addresses two further challenges posed by the alleged ‘ubiquity of narrative’ and ‘ubiquity of imagination’. There are strikingly similar pressures thought to be imposed by narrative and the imagination on the distinction between truth-teller and fiction-maker. Although there need be no direct relation between the two, it has been claimed for both narrative and the imagination: that they are indispensable for human cognition; that they are natural (innate, unlearned) dispositions apparent at the earliest stages of infant development; that their paradigmatic forms are in literary expression; that there is no difference in kind between the way each functions in literary and non-literary applications; and that their fundamental role in all intellectual processes weakens the distinctions between different modes of discourse, historical, philosophical, scientific, and literary. The chapter explores some of these claims and defends the view that the functions of both narrative and the imagination in the practice of fiction are distinct in significant ways from their functions in other contexts, for example in history, philosophy, and science. In doing so it shows that the pressures arising from the apparent ubiquity of narration and imagination do not constitute any serious threat to the distinction between fiction and non-fiction as it bears on literature.

Keywords: fiction; narrative; imagination; literature; fictionality

Chapter.  11372 words. 

Subjects: Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art

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