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date: 26 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter suggests that nested mental states constitute a fundamental unit of meaning in fiction. It uses the concept of sociocognitive complexity (mental state nested within mental state, and so forth) to offer new ways of reading Cao Xueqin’s classic novel The Story of the Stone (Honglou meng 紅樓夢). The chapter discusses the contrast between explicitly described mental states of characters and implied nested mental states of characters, narrators, implied readers, and authors, by bringing together research on theory of mind (particularly, in developmental psychology: Joan Peskin and Janet Wilde Astington); narratology (Robert Scholes, James Phelan, and Robert Kellog); and scholarship on Hong Lou Meng (Dore J. Levy, Andrew H. Plaks, David L. Rolston, Haun Saussy, Andrew Schonebaum, Angelina C. Yee, Anthony C. Yu, Kam-Ming Wong, and Xueping Zhong).

Keywords: sociocognitive complexity, 紅樓夢, Hong-Lou Meng, The Story of the Stone, Cao Xueqin, nested mental state, implied mental state, theory of mind, developmental psychology, fiction

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