What is fiction after literature

A fiction is a statement or representation of a fact or event without a verifiable reference (reference to reality), which can therefore be called neither "true" or "false". Literary fiction in particular, based on a formulation by Kant, presents "poetic and at the same time assumed objects" (Critique of Pure Reason, B 799) and thus, in both dramatic and epic form, delimits itself from the statement of reality, in particular from the historical report. Historians and poets already differ according to Aristotle "in that one communicates what actually happened, the other what could happen." (Poetics, Chapter 4) In this imitation or representation (mimesis) of the possible, Aristotle even sees the superiority of poetic fiction, in the sense of higher generality, based on historiography that is actually specific. In doing so, he contradicts the devaluation of poetry as a "lie", which was developed by the pre-Socratics and summed up by Plato, and secures it an intrinsic value that shapes the Western concept of literature to this day: Literature is always an invention. [...] Whoever calls a story 'true' offends art and truth at the same time. (Vladimir Nabokov). The newer philosophy of language determines the narrative fiction as claim without assertive force (Thank God Frege), as pretended assertion (John R. Searle), as speech that does not claim to be able to be referenced or to be fulfilled (Gottfried Gabriel).
The appropriate reception of fictional texts presupposes that, due to an unspoken 'agreement' of a 'pact' between author and reader, the claim to verifiability, which we otherwise address to informative texts, is "suspended". The suspension of disbelief, of which the English romantic S.T. Coleridge spoke, realized himself in a specific situation or institution (e.g. in the theater, where actors fake an event that we do not understand as a historical claim, even if the main character is called Wallenstein or Julius Caesar). Or it gets through, especially when reading narrative texts Context information caused, above all by the genre-poetic declaration as "novel", "novella" and the like. This also applies to the - very numerous - cases where places, dates, people, events in a narrative or a dramas are borrowed from historical reality. Viewers or readers do not relate a dramatic hero named Wallenstein or the Lübeck novel - or only in a very indirect sense - to historical-empirical reality. They accept that a stage character with a historically verified name behaves differently than the historical bearer of this name - or that fictional people named Buddenbrook move in historically authentic locations that can still be found today. Even in such cases, the declaration that directs the reception as a fictional text remains decisive: Just as the lion is, [...], almost only digested mutton, so fiction is almost only fictionalized reality. (Gérard Genette)
Käte Hamburger (1957) and Gérard Genette (1991), among others, have presented stimulating and lively debated articles on the logical status and the - text-external and text-internal - distinguishing features of fictional and factual texts.
The awareness of the intrinsic value of fiction, which always touches on the question of the particular quality of knowledge or the power of the artistic imagination, has grown historically and is changeable. Marked in ancient Greece, as Heinz Schlaffer recently showed, the poetics of Aristotle a differentiation of the archaic myth into scientific knowledge on the one hand and (fictional) poetry on the other hand, which then as an organ of the Sense of possibility (Robert Musil) increasingly takes on compensatory functions: so fiction complements us mutilated beingsthat we only to have a single life and the ability to wish a thousand. (Mario Vargas Llosa) In the early modern period, fictional narrative literature defends itself against genre-poetic disdain with emphatic declarations of authenticity. But they are increasing - like that There was once... of the fairy tale - contrary to its wording, understood as an announcement of fiction. The 'realistic' literature, especially of the 19th century, uses the method of fictional narration mainly mimetically to create an illusion of reality. Theodor Fontane postulates that the novel should be us make a world of fiction appear for a moment as a world of reality. In the twentieth century, on the other hand, attempts to bring out the character of fictionality and thereby make it conscious are increasing.
These antimimetic The tradition of storytelling, which has individual models as early as the 18th and 19th centuries, shaped Anglo-American, French and Italian narrative literature in particular in the second half of the 20th century. Metafiction becomes a collective term for fictional narrative texts that self-reflexively and systematically draw attention to their status as artifacts in order to problematize the relationship between fiction and reality. (Patricia Waugh) In this way contemporary literature undoubtedly also reacts to the increasing difficulty of distinguishing between 'reality' and fiction within the lifeworld. What we experience as 'reality' - especially when mediated by modern mass media - is pseudo-reality already produced by the media - that is, no longer recognizable fiction, but rather obscure, generally all-encompassing simulation (Jean Baudrillard).

© JV

Secondary literature

  • G. Gabriel: Fiction and Truth. A semantic theory of literature, Stuttgart 1977.
  • H. Schlaffer: Poetry and Knowledge. The emergence of aesthetic awareness and philological knowledge, Frankfurt / M. 1990.
  • J. Vogt: Aspects of narrative prose, 7th edition, Opladen 1990.