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Abstract

In his article "Fictionality and the Empirical Study of Literature" Torsten Pettersson surveys three types of studies and argues for research which disentangles fictionality from other aspects of literariness. Pettersson conceptualizes the basic paradoxical phenomenon that made-up stories can influence readers' perceptions of the real world and presents an empirical study of the impact of fictionality based on a five-page narrative presented to two groups of young Swedish readers as an extract from an autobiography and a novel, respectively. A questionnaire elicited reactions to the narrative, as well as attitudes to fictionality and to literary reading in general. Results include the respondents' professed preference for real-life stories, which was not, however, matched by their actual appreciation of the text. The participants' attitude to learning something from fictional narratives was positive, but in their stated reasons for reading fiction entertainment and relaxation loomed large.