On Fiction, Part2  

rm_TappyTibbins 40M
49 posts
5/11/2005 8:10 pm

Last Read:
3/5/2006 9:27 pm

On Fiction, Part2

...continued from Part 1...


Published in 1949, George Orwell’s nightmare vision of a futuristic society was unquestionably “fiction.” One need look no further than CNN or modern surveillance technology, however, to see the relevance his work still has today. 1984, like all great works of fiction, may not have contained any actual events, or described the experiences of any real people. The purpose of great fiction is not necessarily to tell a story, but rather to raise issues and questions that will create in the audience a mood or sentiment, or to raise questions that demand work on the part of the reader to answer. The goal of fiction is not to describe experiences, fiction strives to be an experience.

The only way for a fiction author to do this effectively is to create circumstances and characters that come genuinely alive in the imagination of the reader. If a character’s psychology is sufficiently well developed and complex, then we can learn valuable insights into behaviour by exposing this “real” fictional character to extraordinary events.

Dostoevsky’s “Crime and Punishment” is essentially a novel without a plot. He creates a complex and believable character, has his character commit a heinous crime, and then proceeds to simply study the effects of his characters guilt and suffering. The action unfolds in 50 pages. The study requires 2000 pages more.

The relevance of this is found in the process. How is anybody, a singer, a painter, a writer, an architect, a doctor, supposed to imbue their work with feeling and emotion and succeed in communicating that emotion to others unless they are neck deep in it? I'm not saying you have to be sad to write a sad song, but you do need to be really good friends with sadness, you need to have lived with it for a while. You need to understand the ins and outs of a feeling before you can write it, perform it, caress it and shape it. You need to be honest with yourself about who you are in order to truly understand anybody, let alone create somebody.

So, while the events in a fictional work may not have occurred, the characters may never have existed, not one word in that fiction can be dishonest. Is it a true story? Did it really happen? I suppose it depends on what you read. The plot? The words? Or did you read something else? Something that wasn't even on the page, or in the song, or in the actor’s voice.

Is it a true story? They're all true stories ‒ even if they never happened.


Tomorrow: "Many Hats, Many Faces"


rm_morefutility 37F
175 posts
5/11/2005 9:59 pm

I to think you can learn a lot from fiction. Though it may be "fiction" there is some poignancy to it that leads us to believe that the deeper roots lie in a truth somewhere, whether it be in my mind or the authors. Crime and punishment was a memorable read for me, but I had about the same take on it as you. i could never really get behind the main charachter because he seemed to me cowardly and self-centered, but the atmospere of the story was a harsh one. Hismemory of watching the horse get beat stands out in my mind, though it has been several years since read the novel. I have also enjoyed "A Brave New World" and "A Stranger in a Strange Land", in the prophesy with moral implications category.

rm_TappyTibbins 40M
22 posts
5/11/2005 10:18 pm

"Stranger in a Strange Land" I haven't read. Thanks for the tip!

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