With Possible Worlds of Fiction and History, Lubomir Dolezel reexamines the claim-made first by Roland Barthes and then popularized by Hayden White-that "there is no fundamental distinction between fiction and history."
Dolezel rejects this assertion and demonstrates how literary and discourse theory can help the historian to restate the difference between fiction and history. He challenges scholars to reassess the postmodern viewpoint by reintroducing the idea of possible worlds. Possible-worlds semantics reveals that possible worlds of fiction and possible worlds of history differ in their origins, cultural functions, and structural and semantic features. Dolezel's book is the first systematic application of this idea to the theory and philosophy of history.
Possible Worlds of Fiction and History is the crowning work of one of literary theory's most engaged thinkers.
Lubomir Dolezel is professor emeritus of comparative literature at the University of Toronto and author of Heterocosmica: Fiction and Possible Worlds, also published by Johns Hopkins.