1st Edition

Thinking about Stories An Introduction to Philosophy of Fiction

    284 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    284 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Thinking About Stories is a fun and thought-provoking introduction to philosophical questions about narrative fiction in its many forms, from highbrow literature to pulp fiction to the latest shows on Netflix.

    Written by philosophers Samuel Lebens and Tatjana von Solodkoff, it engages with fundamental questions about fiction, such as: What is it? What does it give us? Does a story need a narrator? And why do sad stories make us cry if we know they aren’t real? The format of the book emulates a lively, verbal exchange: each chapter has only one author while the other appears spontaneously in dialogues in the text along the way, raising questions and voicing criticisms, and inviting responses from their co-author. This unique format allows readers to feel like they are a part of the conversation about the philosophical foundations of some of the fictions in their own lives.

    Key Features

    • Draws on a wide range of types of narrative fiction, from Harry Potter to Breakfast of Champions to Parks and Recreation
    • Explores how fiction, despite its detachment from truth, is often best able to teach us important things about the world in which we live
    • Concludes by asking in the final chapter whether we all might be fictions
    • Includes bibliographies and suggested reading lists in each chapter


    1. What is Fiction?

    2. What is a work of Fiction?

    3. What are Fictional Characters?

    4. Do Fictional Character Really Exist?

    5. Imagination and Fiction

    6. Interpreting Fiction

    7. "Can someone tell me what’s happening?" Narrators and Cinematic Presenters

    8. Why are you Crying?

    9. The Paradox of Tragedy

    10. "Can you Imagine?!" The Puzzle of Imaginative Struggles

    11. What Can we Learn from Fiction?

    12. Are you Fictional?


    Samuel Lebens is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Haifa. He works on a wide variety of philosophical topics, including metaphysics, epistemology, the philosophy of literature, and the philosophy of religion. Recent books include The Principles of Judaism (Oxford UP, 2020) and Philosophy of Religion: The Basics (Routledge, 2022).

    Tatjana von Solodkoff is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at University College Dublin in Ireland. Tatjana thinks and writes about fiction, ontology, the methods of metaphysics, and death.