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Invention Formosa, the empire of the Great Khan and Lilliput : can 18th century fiction be counterfactual?

Ein erfundenes Formosa, das Reich des Großkhans und Lilliput: können die Fiktionen des 18. Jahrhunderts kontrafaktisch sein?
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Winnerling, Tobias

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Abstract 'This paper proposes a new use for old descriptions of the foreign that from today's point of view cannot be considered sources of factual information. Instead of questioning how much of these reports is empirically verifiable, they are usable as counterparts to empirical scenarios in historical comparisons, provided they can be qualified as counterfactual. There are two criteria they have to met to make this possible: They may not be too far away from the empirical reality, and they must be structurally compatible to modern scientific methodology, therefore descriptive and empirically orientated. This means that fictionality and counterfactuality are not mutually exclusive or incompatible, and old accounts can be used as counterfactuals. The material for demonstration is provided by analysing the descriptions Marco Polo and Mandeville gave of the Mongolian Empire, George Psalmanazar's Formosa, and Swift's Lilliput.' (author's abstract)
Keywords analysis; literature; Asia; Far East; travel; thinking; writer; methodology; Taiwan; historiography; comparison; eighteenth century
Classification Research Design; General History
Method empirical; qualitative empirical; historical
Document language English
Publication Year 2009
Page/Pages p. 215-234
Journal Historical Social Research, 34 (2009) 2
ISSN 0172-6404
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Creative Commons - Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works