New York: Cambridge University Press (1987)
The essays in this collection are concerned with the philosophical problems that arise in connection with the understanding and evaluation of literature - such problems as the relationship between the work and the author (authorial intention), between the work and the world (reference and truth), the definition of a literary work, and the nature of literary theory itself. Professor Olsen attacks many of the orthodoxies of modern literary theory, in particular the enterprise to build a comprehensive systematic literary theory. His own work is informed by a consistent perspective: the assumption that literature is a social institution governed by conventions, and that answers to problems of interpretation and appreciation can be found only through an analysis of these conventions. This is an important book for scholars and students of literary theory and philosophy, especially for those who see an ever-increasing cross-fertilization between the two disciplines.