Monday, October 29, 2007

The Responsibility to Understand the Nature of Fiction

Some things have to keep being said (as I keep saying). I was as shocked as today's letter writers to the Guardian by the misunderstandings about the nature of fiction displayed thus in Saturday's leader about Monica Ali's Brick Lane:
The artists are responding to a public hunger for some insights into British-Bangladeshi life. They are providing reportage from an under-reported community. There is a price for that, and it comes in treating one's subjects with greater care than if they were made up.
As I have said before in greater detail with reference to this novel, the idea that the subject of a novel is ever 'not made up' would be laughable if it were not coming from the pens and laptops of supposed intellectuals and literary experts.

As I said then: once real people and real places and real events get forged in the fire of fiction, you can't tell what's left of the reality, it simply doesn't relate to 'reality' in the way Greer, and the Muslim protestors, assume. ...Novels can't be divided up into the reality bits and the imagination bits, it's just one big meld, and the only real 'reality' of a novel is the author's psyche, and if it's a good or great novel it will have the reality of emotional truth.
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