This article begins with a discussion of the views on mimesis defended in recent works by Lubomír Doležel, Dorrit Cohn, and Jean-Marie Schaeffer. It then argues that literary fiction typically represents human beings in their relationship with norms and values. But since norms and values cannot be uniformly reduced to a set of observable facts, they cannot be copied directly but only highlighted indirectly, through examples of human action. These examples, however, do not necessarily represent the norm or the value they are meant to typify. It follows that representation of norms and values cannot be reduced to imitation and that mere observation of nature cannot suffice for creating and understanding fiction. The poet and the reader must know how to distance themselves from the world of “is,” the empirical realm, in order to explore its dependence on the world of“ought,” the realm of norms, and the world of“praise,” the realm of values.
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Thomas Pavel; Fiction and Imitation. Poetics Today 1 September 2000; 21 (3): 521–541. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/03335372-21-3-521
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