Monday, November 22, 2010

Musing Monday...What Is Truth?

Once again, we start our week with a musing from Miz B at  Should Be Reading...

This week’s musing is yet another read-and-respond! 
I was reading one of my favorite blogs, the other day, and came across a post that talked about truth vs. fact. Part of the post had this to say:
From my childhood on, I’d learned a lot of truth about the human condition from reading fiction. In many cases, I learned more from fiction than from observing my real world…
I think that people who discount fiction don’t really understand it–or haven’t read much of it. They don’t grasp the power of story to carry truth.
…Some truths are universal and timeless (like the lessons on friendship learned from Charlotte’s Web.)
My all-time favorite children’s book was Little Women. I learned a lot of important truths from the March family: how to love deeply, how to grieve a loss and go on, and how to feed the imagination…
At the end of the post, there is a question posed, and this is what I’m using for today’s MUSING MONDAYS: What truths do you remember learning in fiction?

My, these questions are getting longer and longer.
Soon they wil be longer than my rambling

But Fiction and the Big Truths is an excellent question. It is a question that I think gets at the heart of  why people love to read fiction...and why some readers think...mistakenly...that non-fiction is more 'real' than fiction. As the blogger Kristi Holl, from whom this quote came, says and that  I have to agree with, people that think this either misunderstand fiction, or more likely, don't read it. Again, as she said, they don't understand the power of a story to convey truth.

Non-fiction is all well and good, but it is always limited by reality. Fiction is limited only by the imagination of the author.

What truths do I remember learning in fiction?
Well, really I would say that the question should be what truths do I not remember learning in fiction? 
And the answer would be none. 
Gosh, I have read so many books, of such a variety, since such a young age, that honesty, the line can get a little blurred between things you experienced in 'real life' and things you 'experienced' in a book. Am I the only one who has had the experience of thinking "Gosh, I know someone that happen to", only to realize that it was something I read about in a book? If it was very well written, if the author was very successful, then it can feel as real in a way for us as something that actually happen to us. I think the more fiction you read, the greater variety, from classics to contemporary, from all the various genres to literary fiction, the greater the view points on Truth you are exposed to. Now, that is not to say that all those viewpoints will agree, because they will not. They will be as varied as the authors that write them. Some we, as a reader, will find ourselves agreeing with and some will raise our hackles..but they will all make us think. 

Actually, the ones that explore those Truths in a more complex way are the most successful for me as a reader. I love mysteries and thrillers and one reason I do is how the genre deals with questions of Life and Death, Truth and Untruth, Good and Evil. But I don't want it all black and white and easy. I want the author to test the limits of these truths, to make us really question what we think, what we would do, what we think is 'right'. 

And I think fiction can do that in a way that non-fiction, limited by the reality of the situation, can rarely do. 
Not that I have lost touch with reality..yet...really!
But if a situation in a book is really well written, it can be so genuine, so tangible, that the truths we experience in a book can be 'real'.


  1. So well said!! And I agree with your last sentence, fiction can be "real" if well written.

  2. I learned different lessons, I think I might have been taught with a learning curve in mind. Here is my answer for Musing for Monday.

  3. These are hard questions! I think I learn a truth from about 50% or more of the fiction I read, but do you think I can just rattle them off? No, I've slept since then. I do like non-fiction in that the story I'm told has actually happened, and I think that is cool. But the heart-wrenching "aha moments" I tend to get more from the fiction side of things. Each provides a nice little service.

  4. You said it! There's nothing more honest than fiction.

  5. Great answer to this week's musing. I liked how you turned the question around to what truths do you NOT remember. Well put! Feel free to check out my answer here.

  6. Thanks for quoting my blog! I'm always glad when it makes others think--and respond!

  7. I don't like to think too much...especially on a Monday morning! :-)


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