Language and imagination play a prominent role in Merleau-Ponty’s early reflections on literature. The “literary use of language” is opposed to usual or ordinary language, and it is also assigned the task of rejuvenating the latter. Merleau-Ponty is here openly inspired by Saussure and more secretly by Bergson. Poetic language is said to effect a coherent deformation of a linguistic code and to liberate signifiers from their subordination under a subjective meaning that directly refers to external objects. Literature also illustrates, in exemplary fashion, the creative power of imagination and the effective force of fictions. This is where the discussion with Sartre comes into the picture. The article explores, in particular, what personal identity and the meaning of real facts owe not only to language but also to the imagination of possibilities. It further investigates the different notions of truth that apply to literary works of art. Literature is also shown to undermine the conception of the relation between fact and meaning, actuality and possibility, reality and fiction, truth and semblance in terms of dual oppositions. Most importantly, literary fictions and narratives can make a real change in the life of writers and readers by unfolding their unrealized personal potentialities, by refining their emotional sensibility, and by distancing them from themselves. In all this, an imaginative mode of ‘projection’ plays a central role.

In questo numero