Why Fiction Matters

Thumbnail Image

Publication or External Link





I explore five features that bear upon literary value and what is involved in appreciating those features. In the introduction, I motivate the project, examine the notion of literary value itself, and sketch the major arguments of the dissertation. In chapter one, I argue that the sonic qualities of a work of fictional literature are always relevant to the literary value of the work. In chapter two, I develop a working account of rhythm in literature and argue that sufficiently appreciating rhythm when reading a work of literature requires performative interpretation. In chapter three, I argue that truth is sometimes relevant to the literary value of fiction. In chapter four, I argue that literature has the capacity to cultivate moral expertise in the intuitive judgment of particular moral cases and that such capacity contributes to literary value. Finally, in chapter five, I argue that fictional literature can provide a reader with the resources for an intimate emotional connection with the author and that a work’s ability to afford such an experience is a literary merit. The larger goal of the dissertation is to make a positive contribution to the discussion of literature’s value, particularly as it concerns prose fiction.