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Abstract

Appeals to the actual author's intention in order to legitimate an interpretation of a work of literary narrative fiction have generally been considered extraneous in Anglo-American philosophy of literature since Wimsatt and Beardsley's well-known manifesto from the 1940s. For over sixty years now so-called anti-intentionalists have argued that the author's intentions – plans, aims, and purposes considering her work – are highly irrelevant to interpretation. In this paper, I shall argue that the relevance of the actual author's intentions varies in different approaches to fiction, and suggest that fictions are legitimately interpreted intentionally as conversations in a certain kind of reading. My aim is to show that the so-called conversational approach is valid when emphasizing the cognitive content of a fiction and truths it seem to convey, for example, in a philosophical approach to fictions which contain philosophical purport using Sartre's fictional works as paradigmatic, and that anti-intentionalists' arguments against intentionalism do not threaten such an approach.

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