Is Literary Fiction about Truth or Meaning?

  • Leen Verheyen University of Antwerp
Keywords: literature truth


In this paper, I develop an alternative account of the novel’s cognitive value, based on the distinction Hannah Arendt made between truth (the result of the ‘need to know’) and meaning (the result of the ‘need to think’), claiming that the latter is better able to explain the novel’s cognitive value. To do this, I focus on a twofold movement I consider central to our experience of literary works, namely the fact that literary works always invite us to come to an interpretation of the work, but at the same time resist interpretation.

Author Biography

Leen Verheyen, University of Antwerp

Leen Verheyen is a PhD student in Philosophy at the University of Antwerp. Her research interests involve mainly aesthetics, philosophy of literature and hermeneutics. Her current research focuses on the relation between literature and truth.

Is there truth through literature?