Fictional Minds

TitleFictional Minds
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsBernaerts, L, Richardson, B
JournalPoetics Today
Date Publishedsep
ISSN0333-5372, 1527-5507

In the analysis and interpretation of fictional minds, unnatural and cognitive narratology may seem mutually exclusive. They each highlight different aspects of what narrators and characters think and feel, and their explanatory grounds differ. An unnatural reading unearths the narrative features, such as literal mind reading, that cannot be reduced to real-world possibilities, whereas a cognitive approach may focus on what is analogous to real-world cognition, or it may explain how unusual fiction is made sense of in cognitive terms. This article offers a synthesis in which the contrast between the two is closely examined. Then the article makes a case for a dialectical approach in which readings move from one position to another in order to achieve a more rewarding and encompassing understanding of fictional minds in general and unnatural minds in particular. The argument is developed through a reading of Peter Verhelst’s The Man I Became and through a discussion of the case of mind reading.


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ENN is the European Narratology Network, an association of individual narratologists and narratological institutions. ENN aims to foster the study of narrative representation in literature, film, digital media, etc. across all European languages and cultures.