Despite using the concept of ›reality‹ (Wirklichkeit) in his book Mimesis Erich Auerbach fails to give an explanation of this concept. This lack of a theoretical reflection on the relation between reality and fiction is not to be taken as a symptom of the failed recognition of this distinction. Rather, its function is positive, namely, as an expression of a particular sense of reality. Auerbach is thus an ally against postmodern pan-fictionalism. For Auerbach, it is obvious not only that we have access to reality, but also that fiction makes an essential contribution to this access. Starting with an explication of Auerbach’s position, this article defends the cognitive value of fictional literature. Fiction conveys cognition when it successfully re-presents situations in which we are able to discover aspects of our own particular situation. Novelistic truth is not simply the truth of propositions in novels. Instead, it might be something like an adequate, or an exemplary, re-presentation (Vergegenwärtigung) of the conditio humana.