Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Truth and Fiction

"Steal this Book" by Joseph Finder

Just a few comments to add to Finder's solid op-ed piece in The NY Times. The history of the novel is even more deeply tied to "fake truth" than Finder suggests. Cervantes, arguably the inventor of the novel, wrote Don Quixote as if it were a transcription of a chronicle the author discovered (Finder cites Dumas's The Three Musketeers, and given that Dumas begins the novel by comparing d'Artagnan to Quixote, I wouldn't be surprised if Dumas's "history" was modeled on Cervantes'). Early English novels were written with a narrative structure that allowed for some degree of "realism": a lot of these novels were written as a series of letters, or pages from a diary. They were written as if they were made of real documents from life. And if you'd like to see the grand culmination of this narrative form, read Bram Stoker's Dracula, which is all about constructing truth out of written narrative.

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