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Studia Phaenomenologica

Volume 8, 2008

Phenomenology and Literature

Claude Romano
Pages 15-46

La consistance de l’imaginaire

This paper tries to explore the legitimacy of applying the phenomenological approach to poems, novels, to all that we classify, too conveniently, under the term “literature.” Such an approach is grounded in one claim: the literary text opens up to a world that is its “thing itself”. The thing of the text is not the text as a thing, in its linguistic and formal properties, no more than the thing of the painting is the canvas coated with pigments. However, what is the status of such a “world”? Is this “opening of a world” only a metaphor? Is the world of the literary work only an imaginary one? In order to answer these questions, it is necessary, first of all, to understand the limits of the structuralist claim that the object of literature is only literature as an object, that is as a linguistic construction and, secondly, to be aware of what is specific to the phenomenological account of the imaginary, in contrast with alternative accounts, such as the one grounded in the theory of speech acts and developed, among others, by Searle.