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FÉLIX MaRTÍNEZ-?????? TOWARDS A FORMAL ONTOLOGY OF FICTIONAL WORLDS In this discussion ' I propose a few concepts for the description and classification of fictional "worlds." The variety of fictional systems of"reality" can be understood, I diink, as an aspect ofthe phenomenon of style in literary imagination .2 But styles of imagination or of vision, and die style of literary works, are more than simply kinds of fictional worlds. To put in some perspective my attempt at classification of literary works according to their systems of reality, I will make first a few remarks on the notion of style. It is a well-known preliminary problem when speaking of style diat this word seems to have more than one meaning in ordinary usage. I think that some ofits current meanings are rich and important, and that literary knowledge would profit if we could reconstruct them in abstract and defined concepts, so that the notions involved were somewhat clarified. I doubt diat diis is possible with current conceptual tools. We can see what is meant, say, when we hear diat a certain person we know "has style"; and we certainly distinguish diis attribute from others such as elegance, good manners, character, taste, originality, mannerisms , or idiosyncracies. Thus, we occasionally perceive in personal behavior a phenomenon called style. A conceptual description or a satisfactory definition of such a given, however, seems very difficult. Speaking of matters of art and literature, "style" has been used, among other things, to designate both the conventional forms of traditional expression (as in "manuals of style") and the anomalous, convention-breaking forms of highly individuated creation (as in die classic conception of Vosslerian-Spitzerian Stylistics, or in Buffon's "Le style c'est l'homme même," as usually understood). Style, dien, as conformity and style as singularity and deviance; style as impersonal decorum and as presence of a unique personal essence in the work. This perplexing ambiguity may be reducible though. Whether conventional and common or personal and innovative, style appears to be a form that characterizes and holds together a creation or a phenomenal entity. Indeed, the fact that 182 Félix Martínez-Bonati183 singular innovations of style often become the common trait of a school or current and sometimes a part of general tradition seems to indicate that neither singularity nor general acceptance are the most basic elements of die notion of style. On first reflection, we may conceive of style as a formal principle that consistently determines the constitution of die pertinent objects. Nonetíieless, constitutive form is too weak a definition for style, since it would also apply to what is called "technique" and even to genre. We must look for a more specific determination . There is anodier ambiguity in everyday uses of die word "style" diat deserves attention. We speak often of "good style" and "bad style." But sometimes we speak as if no style is bad and the thing that matters is to have style at all and as much of it as possible. Thus, we condemn a work because of its having no style or only a weak one. This contradiction probably derives from the confusion of a particular normative, a general normative, and a merely descriptive notion of style. We should keep, if possible, to a merely descriptive notion. Still another uncertainty of usage, in literary matters, relates to the (not universally accepted) restriction of the notion of style to a linguistic one; style, in this restricted usage, is seen as primarily an attribute of diction. The most numerous of literary studies of die style of singular works have been, so far as I can see, descriptions of idiolects. In many cases, the linguistic peculiarity is taken as an index of the world-view or die style of imagination diat is supposed to have produced the work. Alternative to this approach, indeed complementary , is the study of literary style as an attribute of die fictional entities to which literary discourse refers. We find the latter kind of approach mostly in characterizations of genres or of periods ("the naturalist novel," "romance," "classicism," etc.). One may suppose that an exhaustive analysis of the idiolect of a work...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 182-195
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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