• John Woods
Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 391)


One of the most important data for a logic of fiction is the structural complexity of the make-up of fictional discourse. On my analysis of it, the sentences of fictional discourse subdivide into at least seven different types. The taxonomy isn’t mathematically crisp. In some cases there might be categorical overlap, and others none at all. A further fact of importance are the varying ways of cross-categorical interaction in literary discourse. The sevenfold classification to be laid out here absorbs the smaller and less finely-grained one proposed by Gregory Currie.
  • Explicit sentences: Sentences occurring expressly in a fictional text. (“Holmes waved our strange visitor into a chair.”) Currie calls these sentences “fictive”.

  • Inferred sentences: Sentences lacking an explicit occurrence in the text, arising from inferences drawn by the reader. (“Holmes didn’t live alone.”) Currie calls these “metafictive.”

  • Implicit sentences: Sentences true of the world that stories inherit, which upon arrival can serve in conjunction with explicit sentences and inferred ones to derive further sentences of the full story. (“Holmes had a spine.”)

  • External sentences: Sentences expressing the observations and speculations by readers about the goings-on in a story. (“Watson was the narrator of the Holmes stories” or “Almost certainly Holmes and Watson weren’t lovers.”) These are Currie’s “transfictives.”

  • Intentional sentences: Sentences reporting relations in which we ourselves stand to the objects and events reported by sentences of the first two classes. (“Agatha Christie admired Holmes more than any other detective.”)

  • Cross-over sentences: Sentences registering cross-story comparisons. (“Holmes was certainly more intelligent than Li’l Abner.” “Superman was stronger than Mighty Mouse and might well have been stronger than Batman.”)

  • Rest-of-the-world sentences: Sentences true of the world of the story that are not themselves part of the story. (“London lies some few thousands of miles east of Moose Jaw.”)

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Woods
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

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