Can Fictional Narratives be True?

  • Paul Ricoeur
Part of the Analecta Husserliana book series (ANHU, volume 14)


The purpose of this essay will be to grasp as a whole the narrative kinds of discourse ranging from the most “fictional” such as tales, romances, dramas, novels, and movies, to the most “empirical,” including histories, biographies, and autobiographies.1 To put this problem in terms that Wittgenstein has made popular among philosophers, I want to attempt to grasp all these narrative modes as a unique “language-game.” And following Wittgenstein’s example, this means to refer it to some “form of life.”2


Productive Reference Historical Narrative Historical Knowledge Reflective Judgment Fictional Narrative 
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  1. 6.
    Regarding the “oral heritage of written tradition,” see Scholes and Kellogg, The Nature of Narrative, chap. 2, pp. 17–56, and Albert Lord, The Singer of Tales (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1960).Google Scholar
  2. 7.
    The subtitle of Goodman’s book Languages of Art (Indianapolis, The Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1968) is An Approach to a Theory of Symbols.Google Scholar
  3. 9.
    See, for example, Hay den White, “The Historical Text as Literary Artifact,” Clio 3 (1974): 277–303.Google Scholar
  4. 12.
    Ibid.,p. 13.Google Scholar
  5. 13.
    Ibid., p. 22.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul Ricoeur
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Universities of ParisFrance
  2. 2.Universities of ChicagoUSA

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