Volume 12, Issue 1 (2021)                   LRR 2021, 12(1): 145-185 | Back to browse issues page


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Bameshki S. Narrative Semantics, Modal Logic and Fictional Possible Worlds. LRR. 2021; 12 (1) :145-185
URL: http://lrr.modares.ac.ir/article-14-39814-en.html
Assistant Professor, Department of Persian Language and Literature, Ferdowsi University, Mashhad, Iran , bameshki@um.ac.ir
Abstract:   (3624 Views)
The theory of possible worlds presents a model for narrative semantics. This essay focuses on the use of possible worlds’ theory in narrative semantics with interdisciplinary approach. Conception of narration based on possible worlds’ perspective is the main purpose of this paper. Based on this perspective, plot is not only textual actual worlds which some events occur in it, but also include possible worlds which without regarding them, narrative semantics will remain incomplete. Such perspective is derived of semantics of modal logic; therefore, for explanation of this perspective attention to modal logic is necessary. Contemporary
semantic theories have three main branches: philosophical, formal and linguistic semantics. Linguistic semantics uses formal semantics as a semantic logic in order to make clear how the study of meaning is. In this essay it will be illustrated that logical semantics can be applied in narrative semantics. Consequently, if the readers include private worlds of characters or fictional minds’ worlds and various possible worlds in their reading, they will get more complete and more profound conception in reading narrative text, because a fiction is considered as a complete modal system and the mental representations of characters is equal with the PWs of a modal system. Some of accomplishments got, through foreshadowing to meaning of narrative text on the basis of this model, are the redefinition of plot and conflict notion. In order to apply this model in a narrative text, the binary Wandering Island and Wandering Cameleer novels by Simin Daneshvar has been chosen.

1. Introduction
The theory of possible worlds presents a model for narrative semantics. This essay focuses on the use of possible worlds’ theory in narrative semantics with interdisciplinary approach. Concept of narration based on possible worlds’ perspective is the main purpose of this paper. Based on this perspective, plot is not only textual actual worlds which some events occur in it, but also include possible worlds which without considering them, narrative semantics will remain incomplete. Such perspective is derived from semantics of modal logic; therefore, for explanation of this perspective attention to modal logic is necessary. Contemporary semantic theories have three main branches: philosophical, formal and linguistic semantics. Linguistic semantics uses formal semantics as a semantic logic in order to make clear how the study of meaning is. In this essay it will be illustrated that formal semantics can be applied in narrative semantics. By making interdisciplinary connections between semantic method in formal logic and its use in narrative semantics, a helpful correspondence was made between this method and how to explain meaning in narration. Before that narratologists use formal semantics in studying narrative semantics, linguistics had the benefit of this method to study meaning in language. Linguistics in linguistic semantics branch used the conception of possible world in semantics of modal logic and formal semantics to understand and explain the meaning. In this essay, it has been represented how narratologists have used this method to clear the ways for construction of the meaning of narration. The main question of this research is to determine what is the process of construction of the meaning in narration in the light of possible worlds’ prospective? And based on this, how the classical definitions of some narrative elements are redefined? And why? The importance of this subject lies in the significant place of concept of possible worlds in literary theory and illuminate the meaning of narrative from a new aspect. This concept is used in four area of literary theory: 1) theory and semantic of fictionality 2) theory of typology of fictional worlds 3) narrative semantics and 4) postmodernism poetics. Contemplation and research in every of these aspects needs a distinct research but now this essay is about the use of concept of possible worlds in narrative semantic domain because of its special use in understanding the meaning of narrative. This essay clears out that the concept of narrative on the basis of possible worlds’ perspective has effect on understanding the meaning of narrative more completely and thoroughly. Among narratologists, one of the preeminent figure who worked in this area and tried for conception of the fiction in form of a complete modal system was Mari Lure Ryan. Therefore, this essay focuses on Ryan’s collection of works from the methodological point of view. If we look at the meaning of narrative in terms of concept of possible worlds, in order to understand the logic of acts of fiction correctly, in narrative semantics we must consider potential events in characters’ mind that they think about alongside factual events which happen in story world. From this point of view, characters’ mental representations are understood as possible worlds of a modal system. Accordingly, textual actual world is the center of our “system of reality” and non-actual possible worlds also exist in this modal system of realism. Analysis of concept of a narrative is done in terms of its fundamental components and private worlds of characters is one the most important components of the meaning of a narrative. Therefore, how to understand the meaning of a fiction is directly related to whether include the fictional possible worlds or not. This attitude provides a special understanding of the dynamics of narrative acts. By considering fictional possible worlds (which include: wish world, obligations world, goals and plans world and fantasies world) in meaning of plot of narrative. In this new attitude, the plot of a fiction is the movement of different and various worlds in textual universe and in fact, it’s the complex and intricate connections among these textual actual and non-actual worlds that keep the engine of narrative machine on and add to its dynamism. In the same way, conflict as another important narrative factor, also is no longer traditionally defined as the problem or contrast between good or evil forces. For practical explanation of issues, two novels by Simin Daneshvar have been chosen: Wandering Island and Wandering Cameleer. Actually in these two fictional worlds only occurs one plotline (ATW) but many other plots (possible worlds or other  alternative situations) parallel to actual fictional world are moving in story world which in no way without them the meaning of fiction can be understood. There are possible or suppressed plots in these two stories that a shadow of their tracks is shown in narrative but they remain unfinished and incomplete. Understanding the more complete meaning of these plot stories depends on considering this suppressed plotline. Possible worlds that “Hasti” could make them real but it did not happen. Conflict is also evident in possible worlds of characters in Wandering Island and Wandering Cameleer. In plot of this story the character who has least success in resolving his conflicts by aligning all his private possible worlds with textual actual world is "Salim". Consequently, if the readers include private worlds of characters or fictional minds’ worlds and various possible worlds, they will get more complete and more profound conception in reading narrative text, because a fiction is considered as a complete modal system and the mental representations of characters are equal with the PWs of a modal system. Some of accomplishments got, through foreshadowing to meaning of narrative text on the basis of this model, are the redefinition of plot and conflict notion. Understanding the story from the perspective of possible worlds’ theory sheds new light on the conception of the meaning of narrative, story conflict, personality psychology, fictionallity of events, genre studies and so on.
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Article Type: مقالات علمی پژوهشی | Subject: Semantics
Published: 2021/03/21

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