Abstract

ABSTRACT:

This article discusses the reader's mindreading when exposed to realist, modernist, and postmodern fiction. It has been argued that the reader of fiction practices his mindreading competence by trying to attribute mental states to fictional characters and predict their next action (Zunshine). We argue that this applies most of all to the reader of realist texts written in the objective-realist mode. By contrast, readers of realist fiction that extensively informs the reader about the characters' mental states and readers of modernist fiction cannot freely practice mindreading in this way, but instead have an opportunity to enrich their folk psychology or practice their imagination. Also, the metafictional and antimimetic character of postmodern fiction partly undermines the possibility of readerly simulations of a character's mental experience or readerly ascriptions of mental states. We illustrate our argumentation with detailed analyses of three short stories, each representing a different convention. When interpreting the results of our analyses, we refer to three models of mindreading proposed in contemporary cognitive studies: the theory-of-mind theory, the simulation theory, and the interaction theory. This text is meant to contribute to the current debate on the impact of mindreading in which the reader of fiction is engaged on his mindreading competence in real life; in particular, we draw attention to the variety of modes in which literary texts involve readers as well as to the variety of ways in which currently debated theories of mindreading interpret this involvement.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1538-974X
Print ISSN
1063-3685
Pages
pp. 47-70
Launched on MUSE
2021-01-10
Open Access
No
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