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In this study, Alan Paskow first asks why fictional characters, such as Hamlet and Anna Karenina, matter to us and how they emotionally affect us. He then applies these questions to painting, demonstrating that certain paintings beckon us to view their contents as real. What we visualise in paintings, he argues, is not simply in our heads but in our world. No one would assert that the paintings themselves are in our heads; nor would anyone deny that they are in our world. Paskow also situates the phenomenological approach to the experience of painting in relation to contemporary schools of thought, particularly Marxist, feminist, and deconstructionist.