Volume 29, Issue 2
  • ISSN 1387-6740
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9935
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Using Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels as case study, this article presents a cognitive approach to fictionality and authorial intention using Text World Theory and Mind-Modelling. It investigates two forms of ontological distortion: readers’ (mis)classification of the novels’ genre (as autofiction or autobiography) and the problem posed by the author’s pseudonymic identity. The analysis has three parts: first, I conduct a Text World analysis of the novels’ syntactic/stylistic similarities to autobiography and, in doing so, reveal its ontological structure; second, I consider the ontological liminality of narration and the ways in which readers build an authorial mind-model of Ferrante; thirdly, I explore the assessment of critics and/as readers of the text’s fictionality and the impact of Ferrante’s pseudonym on perceptions of authorial intentionality and the authorial mind-model. Ultimately, I argue that a cognitive approach offers greatest insight into readers’ interpretations of authors and of fictionality.


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