[ilds] Fact and Fiction

Bruce Redwine bredwine1968 at earthlink.net
Tue Oct 20 15:46:28 PDT 2009


Now you are making light of a complex issue.


On Oct 20, 2009, at 3:24 PM, Godshalk, William (godshawl) wrote:

> History is lies agreed upon.
> Is the "historical" Napoleon any realer than the "fictional" Napoleon?
> Or "words on a page" ever "perceptions" and/or "thoughts?"
> In fact are "words on a page" language? Don't we "turn" them into  
> language? Without us nada.
> Bill
> W. L. Godshalk *
> Department of English    *           *
> University of Cincinnati*   * Stellar Disorder  *
> OH 45221-0069 *  *
> ________________________________________
> From: ilds-bounces at lists.uvic.ca [ilds-bounces at lists.uvic.ca] On  
> Behalf Of Bruce Redwine [bredwine1968 at earthlink.net]
> Sent: Tuesday, October 20, 2009 1:28 PM
> To: ilds at lists.uvic.ca
> Cc: Bruce Redwine
> Subject: [ilds] Fact and Fiction
> Bill,
> Depends on what you mean by "just words, words, words."  Words as  
> perceptions, thoughts, language?  As for Tolstoy's Napoleon, I'll be  
> entirely conventional and say he's fiction, with a little fact  
> thrown in.  But what about Emil Ludwig's Napoleon?  Is he fact or  
> fiction?  That famous biography is fact, no?  Well, maybe, and only  
> insofar as it's accurate.  Is it true?  Do we ever know anyone so  
> well as to say, this is the way he or she really and truly is or  
> was?  Here, we're getting close to Durrell's idea of "selected  
> fictions," which opens up the debate.  So, we need not limit this  
> idea to represented works.
> Here's a story from the newspapers of some years back.  A funeral  
> was held for a successful businessman in Florida.  At the gravesite  
> were his wife and children.  Also at the gravesite were another wife  
> and children.  Both families had never met before.  Both women  
> shared the same husband, lived fifty miles apart, and were  
> completely unaware of one another.  You might say the deceased  
> husband read Durrell's Quartet and decided to live his own "selected  
> fictions."  So, as far as the respective "wives" were concerned, you  
> might also say the man they knew was a "fiction."  He was not what  
> he seemed (and here, Charles can bring in Hamlet on "seems").
> The confusion here arises from the use of language.  "Fiction" is a  
> word with several senses, a couple of which I have just used.  I  
> prefer to reserve "fiction" for the imagination.  For what the wives  
> experienced, I would say they were deceived and their husband a  
> gross deception.
> Bruce
> On Oct 19, 2009, at 6:30 PM, Godshalk, William (godshawl) wrote:
> Bruce writes:
> Bill's next question might
> be, "Why are they confusing things?" My reply, "They're just young and
> childish, or they're old and childish."
> I respond:
> That's making light of complex issue. I think. Napoleon is at  
> presence not amongst us. When he appears in a book of fiction -- and  
> he does -- is he a real person or a fictional character? Both? Does  
> context really count here? Or is Napoleon at present always just  
> words, words, words?
> And so on.
> Bill

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