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Philosophical novel

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Title: Philosophical novel  
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Philosophical novel

Philosophical fiction
Distinctive features Significant proportion devoted to discussion of questions normally addressed in discursive philosophy
Novel of ideas

Philosophical fiction refers to works of fiction in which a significant proportion of the work is devoted to a discussion of the sort of questions normally addressed in discursive philosophy. These might include the function and role of society, the purpose of life, ethics or morals, the role of art in human lives, and the role of experience or reason in the development of knowledge. Philosophical fiction works would include the so-called novel of ideas, including a significant proportion of science fiction, utopian and dystopian fiction, and Bildungsroman. The modus operandi seems to be to use a normal story to simply explain difficult and/or dark parts of human life.

Prominent philosophical fiction

This is only a list of some major philosophical fiction. For all philosophical novels, see Category:Philosophical novels.

There is no universally acceptable definition of philosophical fiction, but certain works would be of key importance in its history.

A borderline case is that of Plato's Socratic dialogues; while possibly based on real events, it is widely accepted that with a few exceptions (the most likely being the Apology), the dialogues were entirely Plato's creation. On the other hand, the "plot" of these dialogues consist of men discussing philosophical matters, so the degree to which they fall into what moderns would recognize as "fiction" is rather unclear.

Author Name Date Notes
St. Augustine De Magistro 4th century Early example
Abelard Dialogue of a Philosopher with a Jew and a Christian 12th century Early example
Ibn Tufail Philosophus Autodidactus 12th century[1][2] Early example
Yehuda Halevi The Kuzari 12th century Arabic
Voltaire Candide 1759 Early example
Thomas Carlyle Sartor Resartus Canonical
Goethe Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship Canonical
Tolstoy War and Peace Canonical
Robert Musil The Man Without Qualities Canonical
Milan Kundera The Unbearable Lightness of Being
Most novels by Albert Camus
Most novels by Hermann Hesse
Most novels by Stanislaw Lem
Most novels by Philip K. Dick
Most novels by Ayn Rand
Aldous Huxley After Many a Summer
Aldous Huxley Island
Novels by Iris Murdoch
Novels by Anthony Burgess
Novels by Jean-Paul Sartre
Novels by Andre Malraux
Novels by Marcel Proust,[3]
Novels by Stendhal
Novels by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
C.S. Lewis Space Trilogy
Søren Kierkegaard Diary of a Seducer 1843 A novel in the highly literary philosophical work Either/Or.
Friedrich Nietzsche Thus Spoke Zarathustra 1885 Perhaps the most well-known example of a modern philosophical novel.
Marcel Proust In Search of Lost Time 1913-1927
Jean-Paul Sartre Nausea 1938
Jean-Paul Sartre No Exit 1944 An existentialist play outlining Sartrean philosophy.
Jean-Paul Sartre The Devil and the Good Lord 1951 An existentialist play outlining Sartrean philosophy.
The stories of Jorge Luis Borges
The novels of Umberto Eco
Jostein Gaarder Sophie's World 1991
Yukio Mishima The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea
David Foster Wallace Infinite Jest
Giannina Braschi United States of Banana 2011 Contemporary American philosophical fiction


Novel of ideas

Philosophical novels would include the so-called novel of ideas, including a significant proportion of science fiction, utopian and dystopian fiction, and Bildungsroman.

See also


External links

  • What is a philosophical novel?

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