Such Stuff as Dreams: The Psychology of Fiction explores how fiction works in the brains and imagination of both readers and writers. Drawing on an idea originally developed by a variety of historical literary figures including William Shakespeare, in this ground–breaking work Oatley richly illustrates how fiction is not simply a slice of life, pure entertainment, or an escape from everyday reality. While it does indeed incorporate many of these elements, at its core fiction represents a guided dream, a model that readers construct in collaboration with the writer. This waking dream not only enables us to see ourselves and others more clearly, but offers us revealing glimpses beneath the surface of the everyday world.
The book considers topics such as fiction′s ability to create vividly emotive experiences; issues of empathy and identification; creativity and externalizations of the mind utilized by writers of prose fiction; and the various effects of fiction on individual readers. Throughout the book, excerpts from fiction are also featured and discussed, including works by William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Kate Chopin, Anton Chekhov, and James Baldwin. Informed by deep scholarly rigor, Such Stuff as Dreams is an illuminating and thought–provoking analysis of the transformative power of fiction to enter and engage the mind into revealing profound insights about ourselves and those around us.
1 Fiction as dream: Models, world–building, simulation.
2 The space–in–between: Childhood play as the entrance to fiction.
3 Creativity: Imagined worlds.
4 Character, action, incident: Mental models of people and their doings.
5 Emotions: Scenes in the imagination.
6 Writing fiction: Cues for the reader.
7 Effects of fiction: Is fiction good for you?
8 Talking about fiction: Interpretation in conversation.