Deconstruction and Fiction

Derek Attridge

in Reading and Responsibility

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print May 2010 | ISBN: 9780748640089
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748652112 | DOI:
Deconstruction and Fiction

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This chapter arises from the reading of J. M. Coetzee's memoir Boyhood and a fascination with its problematic relation to fiction. John Searle argues that the writer of fiction is ‘pretending’ to make assertions rather than actually making them, and in so doing is not committing himself or herself to the truth of the expressed propositions (‘The Logical Status’). Fiction could be considered a branch or type of irony, one in which the context informs the reader that the sentences are to be taken as referring to an imaginary reality. Speech is revealed as subject to the same mediations as writing, in spite of the illusion of immediacy and presence. Fictional language both refers and deploys referentiality; it may, for instance, demonstrate the immense power of the referential drive, or it may expose the frailty of the systems of referring.

Keywords: deconstruction; fiction; John Searle; speech; fictional language; Logical Status

Chapter.  3653 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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