The paper deals with the problematic relation between literature and sociology. The use of literary sources has generally been intended as a sort of embellishment of the often inelegant sociological speech. The author argues that literary narratives may be also adopted as an appropriate source of data, provided that social scientists take into account the methodological paradox of fictional texts used to understand non-fictional social phenomena. By confronting with an essay by Peter Laslett, in which a cautious use of literary sources is advocated, the paper attempts to show the truth value of literary texts, by chiefly making reference to Paul Ricoeur’s concept of mimesis. The paper underlines, moreover, that the use of literary sources by social scientists entails a sociological translation and an unavoidable reduction of the complexity of the literary work.
Keywords: literature, sociology, narratives, sociological use of literary sources