File spoon-archives/phillitcrit.archive/phillitcrit_2000/phillitcrit.0010, message 15

Subject: PLC: "truth"
Date: Mon, 23 Oct 2000 12:51:50 ADT

Responding to James R. Fromm and David Langston (et. al.) on the idea of 
"truth" in fiction, as opposed to reality.  I have long considered fiction 
to be in many ways more "real" or "true" than history in that it is much 
less subject to change.  History, as well as its accompanying banner of 
"truth", is constantly being rewritten.  This is one of its strengths, 
something integral to the practice of history.  Fiction, however, generally 
does not change.  A story by either Stevenson or Hawthorne does not change.  
If I read Hawthorne in 1954, the text will be the same if I read it again 
next week.  My own reactions and responses will of course differ, but the 
text generally will not.  Fiction, in this way, is solid, unchanging.  I 
think this is why we write about literature (and philosophy too, for that 
matter) in the present tense.  You read a play, and the action is carried 
out.  Read it one hundred years ago or one hundred years from now, and the 
action is still being carried out.
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