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HUMANITIES 139 does not undermine Fortier's accomplishment and the usefulness of his book. (ANN WILSON) Lubomir Dolezel. Heterocosmica: Fiction and Possible Worlds Johns Hopkins University Press. 340. us $45.00 'Literary fiction is probably the most active experimental laboratory of the world-constructing enterprise' claims Lubomir Dolezet which explains why within the many-worlds model of fiction proposed in this book, literary fiction is of prime interest. What does a many-worlds model entail for a semantics of fiction? First, it entails that although fiction is in some sense a derivation from the actual world, the notion of fiction cannot be exhausted or its complexity explained through its mimetic relations with the actual world. Second, it follows that a semantics of fiction concentrates on the mechanism of world construction rather than on the conventions of world interpretation (that originate from the world we actually inhabit). A many-worlds theory of fiction thus has more to do with logic than with pragmatics. These general remarks can help to locate the present book in relation to a vast literature dedicated to the problem of fiction and pursued from a wide variety of points of view. Dolezel is one of the main figures in literary theory, to whom the initiation and formation of a literary semantics can be credited. Literary semantics is a paradigm that aims to formulate the selection conditions under which a fictional/narrative proposition is constructed , and consequently to define the rules on the basis ofwhich fictional discourses and narrative worlds are made. In that, the literary semantician follows a structuralist orientation while avoiding the structuralist drawbacks : his/her main aim is to account fully for the relations between text- .phrases and larger discourse units (like character or plot), while in many narratological grammars these relations remain unaccounted for. But the main import of Dolezel's contribution is related to the fact that his is a world-based semantics. In other words, he offers an integrative view of literary semantics which relates the logic of narrative construction to the world constituents acting jointly. A world-based literary semantics proceeds by first distinguishing a one-person world from multi-person worlds. The elementary units and agents of a world are then enumerated (a natural force, a person, mental life, state, and event). These basic semantic units are then more finely predicated with categories such as 'intentionalitl/ ':lnd 'motivation,' and by elaborating a theory of narrative action (that distinguishes betweenstates and events, between intentional and nonintentional events, between modes of action, etc). When we move from one-person worlds to multi-person worlds more semantic categories are needed (such as interaction and social action). 140 LETTERS IN CANADA 1998 One of the more fascinating parts of this book relates to those categories responsible for actual narrative formations; that is, to the operations that generate actual stories, orders and worlds from the ideal or abstract categories described above. The main function in these formative operations relates to narrative modalities, a crucial part of a literary semantics and one of the irmovations and improvements of Dolezel's model over narratology as is often practiced. Narrative modalities indicate world-specific constraints: for instance what type of action is allowed/prohibited in a certain world, what is possible and what is impossible in a world, how world-events and actions are valorized in a specific world, etc. A complementary factor in this semantic grammar is the notion of authentication, which decides which'narrative parts are constructed as having fictional existence and which are denied existence (through irony, unreliable narration , etc). A literary semantics not only accounts for the overall narrative structure (a project practised by narrative grarrunarians) but also moves gradually to the realm of texture and style. Selection and formation of narrative utterances can equally be analysed according to world-constructing rules and constraints. It should be noted that while pursuing the details of this semantics Dolezel does not limit himself to simple, even simplified, story structures, but rather, illustrates his case with intricate texts from Kafka to postmodemisrn. Dolezel's book on fiction and world construction is long overdue. Here as in his earlier work, Dolezel has shown the promise that still lies...


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pp. 139-140
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