“What can be described can happen too…”: on the imaginary conversation between the poet and the tsar

  • Suren Zolyan
Keywords: Modal semantics, Alexander Pushkin, text semantics, Kripke’s structure, truth in fiction


We consider the possibility to formalize the semantics of text through the apparatus of modal semantics, esp. using S. Kripke's notions of a model and model structure. As a demonstration of the abovementioned stands,  we consider Pushkin's draft note "If I were the Tsar”.   The draft note reflects this biographically motivated intention, but it can be reconsidered as a short story that explicates Pushkin's poetics on modality. Its incompleteness and multiplicity of final versions remind a post-modern technique of writing. One can find the same mechanism, though manifested in different ways, as it works in Pushkin's literary texts: transforming a character into an author and an author into a character and reader. The draft note is written on behalf of the Tsar; his author (Pushkin) turns out to be his character. But in a fictional world where Pushkin became a Tsar, another Pushkin remained a poet who talked about real episodes of his biography. These worlds did not differ significantly from each other - in both worlds, the Tsar punishes the poet for his statements. The fictional  text and the actual world are represented as mutually permeable semantic areas, and their inter-penetrability determines a multivalued interpretation.


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How to Cite
Zolyan, S. (2022) “‘What can be described can happen too…’: on the imaginary conversation between the poet and the tsar”, Rivista Italiana di Filosofia del Linguaggio. doi: 10.4396/SFL2021A12.