|Thomas L. Martin, Poiesis and Possible Worlds. A Study in Modality and Literary Theory, University of Toronto Press, 2004, 256 p.
In Poiesis and Possible Worlds, Thomas L. Martin makes a highly focused intervention in the debate about poststructuralist and postmodern theorizing and offers a philosophical approach to some of the controversial tenets of recent theorists. The result is an important addition to the existing literature on the usefulness of possible worlds theory for literature.
Martin argues that literary studies remain mired in the anomalies of a linguistic methodology derived from early twentieth-century language philosophy, a view challenged not only by theoretical physics, but also by compelling advances in philosophic semantics. The possible-worlds theory of this book moves beyond the understanding of language as an inescapable medium and toward a view of language as calculus, a theoretical outlook that provides richer means to model a wide range of literary worlds. These possible-worlds insights apply to several fundamental issues in literary and critical theory: not to a theory of fiction as other possible-worlds theorists have suggested, but at a lower level to the definition of literature, to verbal figuration in the theory of metaphor, and to models of reading.