On Coincidences in Academia and Fiction
Coincidences captivate people's attention in real life and in their reading of literature. Several academic studies concerning the perception of randomness and methods of studying it deal with coincidences as well. This article focuses on a variety of coincidences that have been published, partly in academic writings, and mostly in fiction. Many examples of literary excerpts, collected over years from various sources, are presented side by side with attempted elucidation of their significance and their commonalities and differences. Obviously, the issue of chance pops up time and again. Some coincidences are portrayed in fiction as only haphazard events and others, conversely, as denials of mere chance. Here and there, a coincidence plays a meaningful role by hinting at the denouement of the plot. And on several occasions a coincidental story is a source of fun or delight. The secret of the spell that coincidences sometimes cast on the reader, and the reason for the attraction of synchronicity, have still to be better understood.