The Function of Fiction
This chapter studies how the experience and cultivation of individual subjectivity that since the end of the eighteenth century was inextricably tied to literary discourse and narrative forms of storytelling seems to have been absorbed completely into a thinking and writing in cases. The previous chapters read Robert Musil's and Alfred Döblin's novels as poetological responses to this development. In The Man without Qualities, Musil suggests an essayistic style of writing with which the literary text distances itself from scientific and rational discourse without, however, lapsing into mere fiction. Moreover, the essay sets out to fictionalize rational discourse and pushes it to the very point where it coincides with the fiction that precedes it. Döblin, in contrast, confines his critique to that of narrative while affirming the validity of scientific methods. As a consequence, he rejects any psychological truth claim of literary discourse and attempts to turn the novel into a modern epos that approaches life in its unfiltered totality. The chapter then considers three phases of the discourse of literature, each of which reflects a transformation in the function of fiction that defines the particular historical status of narrative literature.
Cornell Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.
If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.
To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.