Truth in fiction

Fiction can neither make a claim to be truth (for that would be history), nor can it make a claim to be simply lies (for then it would be strategically unsuccessful); but rather, it operates as a way of thinking the world, or of representing the world, or of describing it, without making any simple ‘truth claims’. In terms that I borrow from Todorov, we can make a distinction between vérité-adéquation, in which the truth being sought is one in which a description perfectly matches a preexisting reality, and vérité-dévoilement, in which we have a much looser attitude to truth. The first has an ‘all or nothing’ attitude to truth, the second a ‘more or less’ attitude.

Thomas Docherty, Aesthetic Democracy, 114.

As I have said already that it was an October day, I dare not forfeit your respect and imperil the fair name of fiction by changing the season and describing lilacs hanging over the garden walls, crocuses, tulips and other flowers of the spring. Fiction must stick to facts, and the truer the facts the better the fiction — so we are told. Therefore it was still autumn and the leaves were still yellow and falling, if anything, a little faster than before, because it was now evening (seven twenty-three to be precise) and a breeze (from the southwest to be exact) had risen.

Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own, 16.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s