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Book description

Perspective taking is a critical component of approaches to literature and narrative, but there is no coherent, broadly applicable, and process-based account of what it is and how it occurs. This book provides a multidisciplinary coverage of the topic, weaving together key insights from different disciplines into a comprehensive theory of perspective taking in literature and in life. The essential insight is that taking a perspective requires constructing an analogy between one's own personal knowledge and experience and that of the perspective taking target. This analysis is used to reassess a broad swath of research in mind reading and literary studies. It develops the dynamics of how analogy is used in perspective taking and the challenges that must be overcome under some circumstances. New empirical evidence is provided in support of the theory, and numerous examples from popular and literary fiction are used to illustrate the concepts. This title is part of the Flip it Open programme and may also be available Open Access. Check our website Cambridge Core for details.


‘The Analogical Reader is an absolutely groundbreaking study of perspective-taking. On the basis of new empirical evidence, it offers a coherent and process-based account of the mapping of personal knowledge and experience onto other minds (including its benefits). Dixon and Bortolussi foreground the analogy that is used to connect to the minds of others. They show that it does not matter whether readers align themselves fully with characters; the process of seeking deeper connections to understand characters that display large, perhaps even disconcerting, differences is much more crucial.’

Jan Alber - University of Giessen, Germany

‘Just like with Dixon and Bortolussi’s Psychonarratology, this groundbreaking, truly interdisciplinary book will affect almost all our work in the empirical study of literature. An urgent exploration of the existential topic of perspective-taking in human experiences and story reading, it offers rich resources and well-founded theorizing, thus opening new avenues for future research.’

Frank Hakemulder - Utrecht University, Netherlands

‘An incredibly thoughtful treatise by the leading experts on the cognition of reading. This book presents a balanced and wide-ranging review of relevant research underpinned by concrete and accessible examples, in combination with entirely new data to substantiate their well-considered arguments. Mandatory reading for literary scholars, avid readers, and cognitive scientists alike!’

Raymond Mar - York University, Canada

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