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« Écritures de l’histoire, écritures de la fiction » - Dossier issu du colloque 16 au 18 mars 2006

On the Worlds of Counterfactual History: Between History and Fiction - Ondřej Sládek

 “To understand how it actually was, we therefore need to understand how it actually wasn’t – but how, to contemporaries, it might have been.”1

Almost every historian has been tempted to ask: “What would have happened if...?” What would have happened if there had been no French Revolution? What if Napoleon had won the battle of Waterloo? Or: What if he had lost the battle of Austerlitz? What would European history have looked like? What would have happened if there had been no American Revolution? What would have happened had the Munich Agreement been never signed? Such speculative questions are innumerable and prompt us to provide answers – histories that have never happened, even though they could have.

Alternative history2

Although this kind of thinking about history, which has come to be termed “counterfactual” or “virtual” history, is applied relatively often, it is not a widely accepted approach by standard historiographic research. Many critics of counterfactual scenarios dismiss them as aimless playthings, a “parlor-game” (E. H. Carr)3 for which there is no place in serious historiographic writing.4 For them, such scenarios are fiction, since they describe something which has not happened, which is based neither in history nor in genuine scholarly work. On the other hand, advocates of alternative thinking about history view counterfactual scenarios as an extension of a certain method the historian uses at every stage of his work, maintaining that they, along with models of possible history, have various uses, one of the most important being that they are thought experiments that serve to bring out the significance of certain events and situations of history which did not have to happen as we have come to know them in a single specific way.

But can worlds constructed by counterfactual narratives be treated on a par with worlds generated through historical narratives? Is counterfactual history a history at all, or is it pure fantasy or fiction, literature of no relevance as far as understanding certain past events is concerned? What are the potential uses of alternative history?

Robert Cowley, the editor of What if? The World’s Foremost Military Historians Imagine What Might Have Been,5 says in the introduction to this book on counterfactual history: “History is properly the literature of what did happen; but that should not diminish the importance of the counterfactual. What ifs can lead us to question long-held assumptions. What ifs can define true turning points. They can show that small accidents or split-second decisions are as likely to have major repercussions as large ones (the so-called ‘first-order’ counterfactual).”6 Cowley expresses his opinion about the relation between history and fiction in a decidedly clear and radical way: “History is properly the literature of what did happen.” But what is meant by “history” and “literature” the editor of What if? does not specify. Nor does the statement quoted above explain in any way whether there is a difference between how history is treated by the historian and how it is treated by the literary writer.

Fictional worlds

My intention here is not to deal with issues that have been widely addressed by a host of philosophers, historians and literary scholars as part of the discussion on the methods of historical accounts that has been running since the mid-1970s. Rather, I propose to analyse the relations between fiction and history in the light of counterfactual history, focussing not on the level of certain discourse, as has been done in most discussions on alternative history to date,7 but on the level of theoretical analysis of the structure of the corresponding (possible) worlds constituting individual fictional, historical and counterfactual narratives. I owe this inspiration especially to writings on the semantics of fictional worlds by Lubomír Doležel,8 Umberto Eco,9 Thomas Pavel,10 Ruth Ronen11 and Marie-Laure Ryan.12

In literature, fictional worlds are “a special kind of possible worlds; they are aesthetic artifacts constructed, preserved, and circulating in the medium of fictional texts.”13 A fictional possible world – a fictional world – may be regarded as a frame of reference for all entities constructed by a given fictional text. A fictional world is a macrostructure consisting of entities (characters, objects and places) and relations between them. At the same time, it is subject to certain restrictions that shape in a crucial way: (a) fictional worlds are worlds that exist only by virtue of the semantic energy of the text and are thus accessible only through semiotic channels (reinstated and recoverable in the act of reading); (b) fictional worlds and their individual components have the status of unused possibilities; (c) fictional worlds are “small worlds”14; (d) fictional worlds inevitably contain gaps because they are constructed by finite texts (which themselves contain gaps); (e) these gaps become evident in the creation of the fictional world, and they are therefore of a primarily ontological nature.

Historical worlds

Let us now examine an example of another type of possible world, a historical world constructed by a historical narrative (historiographical text). A historical world is a macrostructure which, like a fictional world is, filled with places, objects, characters and relations between and among them. The most significant difference we find when comparing a historical narrative with a fictional one “est que le récit historique [a l’ambition] de constituer un récit vrai.”15 This being the case, truth, verifiability and comprehensibility are the most prominent features of any historical fiction. Unlike fiction, which contains imaginary events, characters and beings, historical narrative must submit to reference to the factual/actual world.16

The continuous process of verification, completion or even of expunging specific historical facts and rewriting historical narratives evidences the fact that the historical world presented is incomplete and characterised by gaps, as is the case of fiction. Unlike gaps in fiction, however, those found in historical narrative are of an epistemological nature (the gaps in historiographical texts arise from the fact that we do not have and cannot possibly have access to many a fact).17 If they are filled in in any other way than on the basis of historiographic research (by adding imaginary elements and characters, for example), the world is not a possible world of history, but a possibleworld of historical fiction (as in the novels of Walter Scott, Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, etc.).

History is an aggregate of individual narratives which are more or less probable. Strictly speaking, a historical text, or a reconstructed story of history, is probable not because the narrator uses facts which can be verified and for which there is evidence, but by virtue of inferential reasoning, broken down by Charles Sanders Peirce into three forms of “abduction,” best understood as hypothesis formation.18 From this perspective, reconstructing history takes place as the historian formulates, revises or rejects hypotheses by applying abductions to historical data and drawing conclusions of greater or lesser probability about the past.19

Jean Leduc, in his Les Historiens et le Temps, asserts that there is no unbridgeable gap between “real” history and “unreal” fiction. He says that history and fiction cooperate due to the fact that historians at times may resort to fiction in order to reconstruct the past.20 This idea has also been developed by Paul Ricœur, who stresses that historians and historiography must always involve controlled fiction, anyway controlled illusion.21Paul Ricœur writes in his treatise Temps et récit III: Le temps raconté,forinstance:

On peut lire un livre d’histoire comme un roman. [...] L’historien ne s’interdit pas alors de ‘dépeindre’ une situation, de ‘rendre’ un cours de pensée, et de donner à celui-ci la ‘vivacité’ d’un discours intérieur. [...] Cet effet très particulier de fiction et diction entre assurément en conflit avec la vigilance critique que l’historien exerce par ailleurs pour son propre compte et tente de communiquer à son lecteur. Mais il se fait parfois une étrange complicité entre cette vigilance et la suspension volontaire d´incrédulité d’où naît l’illusion dans l’ordre esthétique. Je parlerais volontiers d’illusion contrôlée pour caractériser cette heureuse union qui fait, par exemple, de la peinture de la Révolution française par Michelet une œuvre littéraire comparable à Guerre et Paix de Tolstoï, dans laquelle le mouvement procède en sens inverse de la fiction vers l’histoire et non plus de l’histoire vers la fiction.22

Given that historical narratives are motivated by an effort to understand the reality of certain events that have taken place in the past, what can be said of events that might have occurred? In other words, what can we say about alternative history as a counterfactual mode of thinking? The historian searches for plots and stories which are more or less probable to have occurred the way the particular historian presents them in his narrative. Alternative histories, on the other hand, make use of a much broader concept of probability, bordering dangerously on fiction.

Worlds of counterfactual history

I will now attempt to describe a possible world as it appears in historiographic writing. Like fictional and historical worlds, counterfactual worlds are incomplete and contain gaps that pose epistemological obstacles, since not all events and facts of the past can be known and may even remain unknowable. However, this does not prevent us from attempting to exploit these historiographical gaps by filling them in with other facts or events that are more or less probable or possible, and thus to construct a variety of possible scenarios of the past. A few examples: Napoleon wins the battle of Waterloo; there is no French Revolution; Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union succeeds; etc.

Premise 1: Counterfactual history is a thought experiment expressing what could have happened rather than what did happen.

The structure of worlds constituted in this way is not significantly different from that of fictional worlds, characterised by gaps of an ontological nature. Creating counterfactual history thus involves both certain historiographical knowledge and understanding – noiesis – and an act of creation – poiesis.23

Premise 2: Gaps in counterfactual worlds are both epistemological and ontological.

We shall now look more closely at this kind of possible worlds. It is undisputable that imagination is without limits as far as what might have happened if… is concerned: if Alexander the Great had not died young or if he had an army provided with contemporary technology; if Aristotle and Plato had been equipped with computers; etc. Rather than serving as a means to verify past events and determine historical facts, such speculations evidence possibilities that have not come to pass; they are fictions that serve no historiographic and cognitive purpose. This being the case, we can now pass from these general remarks on counterfactual worlds to the problem of worlds of counterfactual history.

Premise 3: Worlds of counterfactual history are worlds that are physically feasible (possible) worlds.

While fictional worlds may be inhabited by entities that are physically impossible such as supernatural or fantastic beings, worlds of counterfactual history are populated exclusively with the counterparts of historical figures. Worlds of counterfactual history are thus subject to a further restriction: they must be conceivable. This means that the counterfactual world must adhere to logical and epistemological conventions as we are know them from the actual world.

Premise 4: “Counterfactual history is a thought experiment: we are testing the importance of a particular factor [e.g., an event] in actual history by its modification or elimination.”24

Worlds of counterfactual history are worlds which might have been actual worlds had certain events and/or states of affairs taken another course. What would have happened had the winter not been so cruel when Hitler’s army marched on Moscow? What if there had been no fog on the East River in 1776 and George Washington had been defeated and forced to surrender?Counterfactual historians not only consider the possible alternatives to specific events and states of affairs (e.g., it is a foggy day, the winter is mild, etc.) that did not become part of actual history, but also examine the circumstances which shaped or which might have preceded these events. Let us now look in more detail at how counterfactual historians use the concept of event.

At the most general level, an event may be regarded as a “transformation of an initial state into an end state at a certain time.”25 From the point of view of a counterfactual historian, an event is a multifaceted fact which is not or was not inevitable. According to counterfactual historians, each event may have two or more end states. They tend to view these various other-than-actual end states of specific events as a challenge prompting us to construct alternative histories. Besides exploring possible events, they tend to focus on stimuli and causes that might have shaped these events in other ways. Comparing different scenarios of counterfactual histories, we find out that the causes that can be found at the root of alternative courses of history usually include: (a) intentional decisions by specific persons or agents who perform or fail to perform a certain action and/or (b) non-intentional actions in which natural forces, coincidences or accidents play a crucial role.

Typology of worlds of counterfactual history

Analysis of how counterfactual historians treat events in alternative histories makes it possible to outline a typology of the worlds created by these histories. If alternative histories can be differentiated in the way they are structured, then this differentiation lies in the emphasis counterfactual historians put on the specific events transformed as the result of a thought experiment. Based on the criteria of intentionality/non-intentionality presented above, three basic types of worlds in counterfactual history can be distinguished.

  • Worlds of counterfactual history: W1

  • These are worlds in which the resulting event is transformed in contrast to known fact as a consequence of alternative decisions and goals (intentional acts). They include all such worlds of counterfactual history where a single actor (personal agent) may be identified who has affected the subsequent course of history in a significant way by having or not having performed a certain act or a certain event to take place. Examples include virtually any acts/events which may be conceived as having taken place in an entirely different way: Napoleon did not emerge victorious from the battle of Waterloo; Caesar did not cross the Rubicon.

    • Worlds of counterfactual history: W2

    • These are worlds where a specific historical event is transformed to a significant degree not by human action, but by circumstances (non-intentional acts) such as states of affairs, weather and other natural forces that shape the historical development of things. Some counterfactual historians ponder what would have happened if the Turkish sultan Suleiman the Magnificent had not been prevented by inclement weather from invading Vienna in 1529, or what would the course of WWII would have been without the bitter winter of 1941 in Russia. The role of external natural conditions and forces is a relatively widespread topic in alternative histories.

      • Worlds of counterfactual history: W3

      • These are worlds in which the factor determining a transformation of a specific historical event is a coincidence. For example, Cecelia Holland has discussed in her essay “The Death That Saved Europe”26 what might have happened if Europe had been conquered by the Mongol hordes − especially by khan Ogadai’s army, which conquered Eastern Europe − in the thirteenth century. Ogadai was the third son of Gendhis Khan; in 1242 Mongol vanguards had reached Vienna. Holland writes about this crucial historical moment:

      • It never came. Early in 1242, the Mongol army suddenly withdrew. Thousands of miles from Vienna, a single death had saved Christendom from disaster. A single death, and the very ethos that drove the Mongol army. The death was Ogadai’s. The brilliant, humane, and drunken third son of Gendhis Khan had not only kept his father’s empire together but had directed its expansion. [...] When the khan died, their law required them to go in person back to their hearthland to elect a new khan. On the brink of the assault on Europe, great Sabotai let the job go, and went home again. The Mongols never returned.27

        Robert Cowley, the editor of What if?, aptly summed up in his preface to Holland´s essay: “Never, probably, was the West, and the historical phenomenon it represented, in so much danger. At the last moment, blind luck spared Europe. History may be a matter of momentum, but we can never forget that the life – or death – of a single individual can still matter.”28 The emphasis on the role and significance of a specific event for the subsequent development of European history is striking and points to a tendency in counterfactual history.

        On the one hand, counterfactual thinking provides arguments against historical determinism, reinstating the role of accident, coincidence and non-obligatory causation, while many alternative histories assume that a single changed circumstance may have or should have affected the subsequent course of history. Ironically, this smacks of a determinism not unlike that criticised by counterfactual historians themselves.

        In addition to singling out the possible itineraries followed by the historian in construing an alternative history, this typology can be instructive in yet another respect. I have already mentioned the fact that counterfactual thinking helps us to appreciate the role of certain determining factors (events, states of affairs) in the reconstruction of the past (see Premise 4). It can also shed light on the role of natural forces, accidents and coincidences in history. According to Niall Ferguson: “The events they [historians] try to infer from these sources were originally ‘stochastic’ – in other words, apparently chaotic – because the behaviour of the material world is governed by non-linear as well as linear equations.”29 So what are the other uses of counterfactual history? It has been argued that discussing what might have happened but did not is a waste of time and effort. In fact, the opposite is true: thinking about how things might have gone is a mental activity routinely performed on occasions of all sorts. The general theory of action30 regards the creation of counterfactual histories as an integral part of any action: “Every description of an action contains, in a concealed form, a counterfactual conditional statement.”31

        Premise 5: Counterfactual history is not arbitrary, but at the same time is open to criticism.32

        To prevent counterfactual history from becoming a mere plaything of unbridled imagination on the part of the historian, a number of basic methodological guidelines must be adhered to. Ferguson emphases the importance of the credibility and convincingness of individual alternative histories, stressing especially their feasibility: “We should consider as plausible or probable only those alternatives which we can show on the basis of contemporary evidence that contemporaries actually considered.”33 The probability of the counterfactual thus depends significantly on and is constituted by context – the context of a specific actual and historical event. In other words: “the historian must place himself in the position of the contemporaries to whom the various possible alternatives were still available, for whom the selection was not closed by the actualization of one of them.”34

        Both historians and counterfactual historians treat facts and events in the same way, or rather: their inputs are the same while the outputs differ. The key concept contrasting the two interpretations is the one of event. What we have in mind here is a real (acknowledged) event which is at the root of differing courses of development and diverse interpretations. As Ferguson points out:

        A number of points emerge when we consider these [alternatives]. Firstly, what actually happened was often not the outcome which the majority of informed contemporaries saw as the most likely: the counterfactual scenario was in that sense more ‘real’ to decision-makers at the critical moment than the actual subsequent events. Secondly, we begin to see where determinist theories really do play a role in history: when people believe in them and believe themselves to be in their grip.35

        Counterfactual histories and counterfactual historical fiction

        But let us go back now to Ferguson’s methodological guidelines specifying how a historian should proceed when constructing counterfactual history. His method is based on three essential criteria: (a) demonstrating the plausibility, probability and credibility of the counterfactual history; (b) thorough knowledge of the context of the period and of the historical event or events in question; (c) examination only of those alternatives regarded as feasible by people living at the period in question. The last requirement turns counterfactual analysis into a significant tool for expanding historical knowledge. Background material and historical documents are objectively researchable so that each counterfactual history constructed can be examined and verified by other scholars. “Fergusonian counterfactual history is therefore primarily a study of decision-making by historical agents, based on documents such as government records, planning papers, diplomatic exchanges, etc.”36 The background materials and historical documents are thus exclusively W1 worlds, that is, the worlds of intentional action included in the above typology of worlds. Only these worlds (W1) are historically authentic and feasible.

        What if the historian does not verify research in the light of documents and evidence and speculates about what would have happened if a certain coincidence had occurred or if certain natural forces had intervened in a different way? In this case, the historian develops the other two types of worlds: W2 and W3 – worlds in which non-intentional action prevails. Are they still counterfactual history, or (according to Ferguson’s selection criteria) fictions that lie outside the scope of historical research?

        If a world constructed by a historical narrative is populated with characters and objects that cannot be regarded as historical under any circumstances, it is not a historical world but a fictional world. The same can be said of counterfactual history/historiography. If a counterfactual historian’s primary considerations are based on speculations about the possible intervention of natural forces (W2) or unpredictable situations (W3) which do not come within the scope of historical evidence, what he produces is counterfactual historical fiction.

        Premise 6: Counterfactual history that fails to meet the test of documentary verification is counterfactual historical fiction.

        One of the most typical features of counterfactual historical fiction is merging imaginary characters with factual/historical events and objects. This type of literary fiction, represented by such works as Fatherlandby Robert Harris37 or The Alternation by Kingsley Amis,38 has shaped a full-fledged and very popular genre. It would certainly be of interest to analyse the worlds depicted by these individual novels with a view to describing the structure of the counterfactual fictional worlds constituted by this genre.

        Given the scope of this paper, however, I shall limit myself to stating three fundamental differences between counterfactual history and counterfactual historical fiction: (a) the use of abductive reasoning in the processing of historical facts differs in the two forms (the formation of hypotheses in counterfactual historical fiction is not bound by verifiable assumptions); (b) the different referential status of entities and actions in the two forms of narrative (fiction is free to include characters with no historical counterparts); (c) different use of language and narration by the two forms, particularly with respect to the position and role of the narrator. It is the very role of the narrator that is one of the significant criteria identified by Gérard Genette in his study of the relation between fictional and factual narrative.39 In counterfactual narratives, the role and status of the narrator is complicated by the fact that such narratives are partly factual and partly fictional.


        The findings of this discussion on worlds of fiction, history and counterfactual history can now be summed up in the following points:

        • Worlds of fiction, history and counterfactual history are relatively different. While fictional and historical narratives construct worlds that are fundamentally independent and structurally distinct from one another, counterfactual narratives construct worlds that tend to border on either of these opposing alternatives (i.e., counterfactual history/historiography and counterfactual historical fiction).

        • All of these worlds are constructed by specific narratives. All of these worlds are incomplete, for they include gaps which are a universal feature of narrative worlds.

        • Most of these worlds are physically feasible (possible); only fictional worlds can portray worlds which are also impossible.

        • All of these worlds are filled in with places, objectsand beings which may be historical counterparts of real historical figures or purely imaginary and fictitious. The rules of coexistence of these beings are specific in individual worlds.

        • While gaps in fictional worlds are primarily ontological, they are epistemological in historical worlds. Both types of worlds can be identified in worlds of counterfactual history only.

        The points listed above can be summed up in the following table:


        Table 1  

        CFH = Counterfactual history; W1–W3 = types of worlds of counterfactual history; [W1] – [W3] = types of worlds of counterfactual history, which correspond to the fictional worlds; these types of worlds [W1] – [W3] represent only one of many possibilities in/of fiction; the square brackets are intended to demonstrate this circumstance.

        I have not sought to identify all of the narrative forms lying on the borderline between fiction and non-fiction. To do so, it would have been necessary to extend my analysis to genres such as historical fiction or factual narrative. My aim has been more limited, namely to characterise and compare the structure of worlds portrayed by fictional, historical and counterfactual narratives.

        The logic of counterfactual thinking, which borders on the logic of fiction on the one hand and on that of history on the other, is a logic that seeks to preserve the causality of historical development while at the same time relativising hierarchies of historical events. And this may well be one of the most important contributions of this line of research.


1 Niall Ferguson, ‘Introduction. Virtual History: Towards a “Chaotic” Theory of the Past’. In Niall Ferguson (ed.). Virtual History: Alternatives and Counterfactuals. New York: Basic Books, 1999, pp. 1−90 [87].

2 A modified version of this study was published in Czech under the title: ‘O historiografii a fikci. Událost, vyprávění a alternativní historie’, in Kateřina Bláhová, Ondřej Sládek (eds.). O psaní dějin. Teoretické a metodologické problémy literární historiografie. Praha: Academia, 2007, pp. 134−155.

3 See Lubomír Doležel. ‘Narratives of Counterfactual History’. In Göran Rossholm (ed.). Essays on Fiction and Perspective. Bern: Peter Lang, 2004, pp. 109−128 [111−112].

4 The principles of couterfactual thinking and its results appear in research in various disciplines at the present time such as: psychology, sociology, philosophy, logic, economics, etc. Among the most important books and articles are: Neal J. Roese, James M. Olson (eds.). What Might Have Been: The Social Psychology of Counterfactual Thinking. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum, 1995; Philip E. Tetlock, Aaron Belkin (eds.). Counterfactual Thought Experiments in World Politics: Logical, Methodological, and Psychological Perspectives. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996; David K. Lewis. Counterfactuals. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1973; David K. Lewis. ‘Ordering Semantics and Premise Semantics for Counterfactuals’. Journal of Philosophical Logic, 10, 1981, pp. 217−234; Hugh Trevor-Roper. History and Imagination. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1980; Igal Kvart. A Theory of Counterfactuals. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett, 1986; John Pollock. ‘A Refined Theory of Counterfactuals’. Journal of Philosophical Logic, 10, 1981, pp. 239−266; Michael Slote. ‘Time in Counterfactuals’. Philosophical Review, 87, 1978, pp. 3−27; Jonathan Bennett. ‘Counterfactuals and Temporal Directions’. Philosophical Review, 93, 1981, pp. 57−91; etc.

5 Robert Cowley (ed.). What if? The World´s Foremost Military Historians Imagine What Might Have Been. New York: Putnam, 1999. Robert Cowley is an editor of other books on couterfactual history: What if? 2: Eminent Historians Imagine What Might Have Been. New York: Putnam, 2001; What ifs? of American History: Eminent Historians Imagine What Might Have Been. New York: Putnam, 2003.

6 Robert Cowley. ‘Introduction’. In Robert Cowley (ed.). What if?, op. cit., pp. xi−xiv [xi−xii].

7 See Niall Ferguson (ed.). Virtual History: Alternatives and Counterfactuals. London: Picador, 1997; David Carr. ‘Place and Time: On the Interplay of Historical Point of View’. History and Theory, Theme Issue, 40, 2001, pp. 153−167; James L. Huston. ‘Reconstruction as It Should Have Been: An Exercise in Counterfactual History’. Civil War History, 51.4, 2005, pp. 358−363.

8 Lubomír Doležel. Heterocosmica. Fiction and Possible Worlds. Baltimore, MD/London: The John Hopkins University Press, 1998; Lubomír Doležel. Possible Worlds of Fiction and History: The Postmodern Stage. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010; Lubomír Doležel. ‘Narratives of Counterfactual History’. In Göran Rossholm (ed.). Essays on Fiction and Perspective. Bern: Peter Lang, 2004, pp. 109−128; Lubomír Doležel. ‘Fikční a historický narativ: setkání s postmoderní výzvou’. Česká literatura, 50.4 2002, pp. 341−370; Lubomír Doležel. ‘Fictional and Historical Narrative: Meeting the Postmodernist Challenge’. In David Herman (ed.). Narratologies: New Perspectives on Narrative Analysis. Columbus, OH: Ohio State University Press 1999, pp. 247−273; Lubomír Doležel. ‘Mimesis and Possible Worlds’. Poetics Today, 9, 1988, pp. 475−496.

9 Umberto Eco. ‘Small Worlds’. VS. Versus, 52/53, 1989, pp. 53−70; Umberto Eco. The Limits of Interpretation. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press 1990;Umberto Eco. Six Walks in the Fictional Woods. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1994; Umberto Eco. Sugli specchi e altri saggi. Il segno, la rappresentazione, l´illusione, l´immagine. Milan: Bompiani, 1998.

10 Thomas G. Pavel. Fictional Worlds, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1986.

11 Ruth Ronen. Possible Worlds in Literary Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994.

12 Marie-Laure Ryan. Possible Worlds, Artificial Intelligence, and Narrative Theory. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1991.

13 Doležel, Heterocosmica, op. cit., p. 16.

14 See Eco. ‘Small Worlds’, art. cit., pp. 53−70; Eco. The Limits of Interpretation, op. cit., pp. 64−81.

15 See Paul Ricœur. Temps et récit II: La configuration du temps dans le récit de fiction. Paris: Éd. du Seuil, 1984, p. 12.

16 See Dorrit Dohn. ‘Signposts of Fictionality: A Narratological Perspective’. In The Distinction of Fiction, Baltimore, MD/ London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, pp. 109−131.

17 Cf. Doležel. ‘Fikční a historický narativ: setkání s postmoderní výzvou’, art. cit., p. 353; see also Doležel, Possible Worlds of Fiction and History, op. cit.

18 These issues were explored especially by Umberto Eco, who has also systematized them: ‘There are three levels of Abduction. On the first level, the Result is strange and unexplainable, but the Rule already exists somewhere, perhaps inside the same field of problems, and one just must find it, and find it to be the most probable. On the second level, the Rule is difficult to identify. It exists elsewhere, and one must bet that it could be extended to this field of phenomena […]. On the third level, the Rule does not exist, and one must invent it […].’ The Limits of Interpretation, op. cit., p. 159.

19 See John Pier. ‘On the Semiotics Parameters of Narrative: A Critique of Story and Discourse’. In Tom Kindt, Hans Harald Müller (eds.). What Is Narratology? Questions and Answers Regarding the Status of a Theory. Berlin/New York: Walter de Gruyter 2003, pp. 73−97.

20/a> Jean Leduc. Les Historiens et le temps. Conceptions, problématiques, écritures. Paris: Éd. du Seuil, 1999, p. 192; see also Paul Ricœur, ‘Histoire et rhétorique’. In Diogène, no. 168, 1994, p. 26; Paul Ricœur. Temps et récit III: Le temps raconté. Paris: Éd. du Seuil, 1985, pp. 331−342 [331].

21 Ibid., p. 339.

22 Ibid., pp. 337, 339.

23 Cf. Doležel. ‘Fikční a historický narativ: setkání s postmoderní výzvou’, art. cit., p. 362.

24 Ibid., p. 361.

25 Georg H. von Wright. Norm and Action. London: Routledge, Kegan Paul, 1963, pp. 27−28; see also Doležel. Heterocosmica, op. cit., pp. 55−56.

26 Cecelia Holland. ‘The Death That Saved Europe. The Mongols Turn Back 1242’.InRobert Cowley (ed.). What if?, op. cit., pp. 93−106.

27 Ibid., p. 105.

28 Ibid., p. 93−94

29 Ferguson. ‘Introduction. Virtual History: Towards a “Chaotic” Theory of the Past’, art. cit., p. 89.

30 See Georg H. von Wright. An Essay in Deontic Logic and the General Theory of Action. Amsterdam: North Holland 1968; see also Doležel. Heterocosmica, op. cit., pp. 55−73.

31 Georg H. von Wright. An Essay in Deontic Logic and the General Theory of Action, op. cit., pp. 43−44; cf. Doležel. Heterocosmica, op. cit., p. 56.

32 Cf. Doležel. ‘Fikční a historický narativ: setkání s postmoderní výzvou’, art. cit., p. 361; see also Doležel. Possible Worlds of Fiction and History, op. cit.

33 Ferguson. ‘Introduction. Virtual History: Towards a “Chaotic” Theory of the Past’, art. cit., p. 86.

34 Doležel. ‘Narratives of Counterfactual History’, art. cit., p. 117.

35 Ferguson. ‘Introduction. Virtual History: Towards a “Chaotic” Theory of the Past’, art. cit., p. 88.

36 Doležel. ‘Narratives of Counterfactual History’, art. cit., p. 118.

37 Robert Harris. Fatherland. New York: Random House, 1992.

38 Kingsley Amis. The Alternation. London: Cape, 1976.

39 See Gérard Genette. « Récit fictionnel, récit factuel » (1990). In Fiction et diction. Paris: Éd. du Seuil 1991, pp. 65−93.


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Les psychogéographies d'Opicino

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Un Michel-Ange, des sixtines ? L'histoire de l'art à l'épreuve de la voûte de la chapelle Sixtine

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All the World's Futures. La 56e Biennale de Venise

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dernière modification
27 février 2017 15h58