Chapter published in:Style, Rhetoric and Creativity in Language: In memory of Walter (Bill) Nash (1926-2015)
Edited by Paul Simpson
[Linguistic Approaches to Literature 34] 2019
► pp. 127–148
Chapter 8Fact, fiction and French flights of fancy
This chapter discusses a satirical novel: La septième fonction du langage by Laurent Binet, published in 2015. The book is a thriller with a deliberately absurd plot about a search for a lost manuscript which holds the secret of ultimate rhetorical power: the ability to convince anyone to do anything. Although the characters in the novel include some “real people”, such as two former Presidents of France, Stubbs argues that Binet’s characters in general embody an extreme mix of factual and fictional characteristics, and the merciless satire expressed in their mixed ontological status has left many ordinary readers and professional critics uncertain how to evaluate the novel. Stubbs employs various models of analysis, including John Searle’s observations on the logical status of fictional discourse, and contends that, while useful, this approach does not explain in full how readers distinguish fact from fiction, nor indeed how far writers can appropriately go with outrageous caricatures of living persons. In sum, the chapter shows how the novel provides textual problems which have not been solved by either literary scholars or language philosophers.
Keywords: caricature, fictional worlds, French intellectuals, intertextual references, ordinary versus professional readers, parody, satire, semiotics
- 2.The plot: Spoiler alert!
- 3.What is the book really (sic) about?
- 4.The intertext
- 5.The lists
- 6.Factual worlds and fictional worlds
- 7.What is this chapter really about?
- 8.Searle: A pragmatic approach?
- 9.Eco: A semantic approach?
- 10.Searle and Eco (and Gabriel)
- 11.Ordinary readers
- 12.Professional critics
- 13.On the ethical status of fictional discourse
- 14.In lieu of a conclusion
Published online: 28 November 2019
2015 Fictionalism. In The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, E. N. Zalta (ed). [https://plato.stanford.edu/.]
Fauconnier, G. & Turner, M.
Kroon, F. & Voltolini, A.
2011 Fiction. In The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, E. N. Zalta (ed). [https://plato.stanford.edu/.]
Cited by 1 other publications
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