from "Readers, Realism, and Robert Cormier"
Sylvia Patterson Iskander


"Jonathan Culler takes Todorov's three definitions of verisimilitude or vraisemblance a step further and distinguishes 'five ways in which a text may be brought into contact with and defined in relation to another text which helps to make it intelligible.'

First, there is the socially given text, that which is taken as the "real world." Second, but in some cases difficult to distinguish from the first, is a general cultural text: shared knowledge which would be recognized by participants as part of the culture and hence subject to corruption or modification but which none the less serves as a kind of "nature." Third, there are the texts or conventions of a genre, a specifically literary and artificial vraisemblance. Fourth comes what might be called the natural attitude to the artificial, where the text explicitly cites and exposes vraisemblance of the third kind so as to reinforce its own authority. And finally, there is the complex vraisemblance of specific intertextualities, where one work takes another as its basis or point of departure and must be assimilated in relation to it." (140)

In other words:

1.  valid and believable world, resolution, conflict, and/or characters; matches reader's reality. ("real world" context)

2.  valid and believable world, even if it isn't reader's reality. ("real world" context)

3. works within the artificial constructs of a literary category and/or genre. (specific categorical or generic context)

4.  text announces itself as being a part of the artificial constructs of a literary category and/or genre, legitimizes itself as such. (specific and announced categorical or generic context)

5.   sometimes the sequel, sometimes more abstract; assumes former texts as departure points.  (specific textual context)