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Alan Paskow first asks why fictional characters, such as Hamlet and Anna Karenina, matter to us and how they are able to emotionally affect us. He then applies these questions to pictorial art, demonstrating that paintings beckon us to view their contents as real. Emblematic of the fundamental concerns of our lives, what we visualize in paintings, he argues, is not simply in our heads but in our world. Paskow also situates the phenomenological approach to the experience of painting in relation to methodological assumptions and claims in analytic aesthetics as well as in contemporary schools of thought, particularly Marxist, feminist, and deconstructionist.