Published on October 21st, 20140
Liar, Liar, Fiction Writer!
It could be said that the term fiction is really just a euphemism for lie, and that fiction writers are simply professional and socially accepted liars. But many believe fiction writers offer us the greatest truths in their novels and stories. So which is it? Truth or lie? Perhaps both? Here’s how five famous authors felt about lying:
“Advertising is legalized lying.”
He created an entire dystopia from scratch for his novel 1984, but H.G. Wells nursed a keen hatred for consumerism and its reliance on fiction and fantasy. Wells also argued that the passive voice was a grammatical ruse hiding sinister subjects of evil actions. Ironically, he used the passive quite often in his essay on the evils of the subject.
“Lying is not only saying what isn’t true. It is also, in fact especially, saying more than is true and, in the case of the human heart, saying more than one feels. We all do it, every day, to make life simpler.”
Like the citizens of Oran in The Plague, quarantined in a dying city, many killed by disease and all suffering from it, Camus considered lying a plague and humans its victims. Although dreary, Camus certainly makes a point about our constant need to act in certain ways while we hide our true feelings, or lack thereof.
“What we have to do, what at any rate it is our duty to do, is to revive the old art of Lying.”
Oscar Wilde rarely seemed to take anything too seriously. He even argued that Art had no purpose, even though Art manifested itself in almost every aspect of Wilde’s life. Maybe there is some truth to the fiction Wilde weaved with nearly every word he spoke or wrote.
“It’s no wonder that truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to make sense.”
Known for his tall tales and outlandish characters, Mark Twain was also quite a famous actor, as evidenced in his wildly successful public readings. As a satirist, Twain had a strange relationship with the truth, often using it while simultaneously bending the hell out of it.
“Fiction is like a spider’s web, attached ever so slightly perhaps, but still attached to life at all four corners. Often the attachment is scarcely perceptible.”
Virginia Woolf was able to create wonderfully tragic stories from real life situations. Novels like Mrs. Dalloway prove that fiction truly does attach its threads to life. One might wonder if this spider web was part of what haunted Woolf throughout her life and ultimately ended it.