Ex Ante Allusions

  • Jason Holt Acadia University
Keywords: allusion, ex ante, reference, literature, interpretation


We tend to think of allusions as indirect references to objects that already exist. Here I argue against this post facto orthodoxy and for the view that certain cases of allusion count as ex ante allusions (i.e. allusions before the fact). I argue that the standard view conflates the epistemic dependence of allusion (knowledge of the object of allusion) with an existential dependence (the object must already exist). As an adequate account of allusion should explain both the apparent paradoxical character and the possibility of ex ante allusions, I propose that literary allusions should be understood in terms of what might be called reference from rather than reference to.