[lit-ideas] Re: "Reading Lolita in Tehran" - "Why one should bother to re...

  • From: "Veronica Caley" <vcaley@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sat, 1 May 2004 22:31:19 -0400

I agree with everything both John Wager and John McCreery think on the
value of fiction.  But in addition to that, fiction enables  one to lead
many lives vicariously.  Also, fiction is escape, intellectual challenge
when excellent and instructive as well, at least for me.

Two of my more recent favorites are the series of novels by Patrick O'Brian
re the Napoleonic Wars and the "Lymond Chronicles" by Dorothy Dunnett.  The
first is superb in not only telling the story, but it is very well
researched and I could never see myself sitting down to read eighteen
volumes of history on the Napoleonic Wars.  But with fiction, it comes
alive and probably more factually accurate regarding sea battles and
spying, science and medicine of the period.  My only regret is that the
author died and can write no more.

Dunnett's "Lymond Chronicles" takes place practically everywhere in the
western and to some degree eastern world.  And does the same as O'Brian,
but her topic is the 15th century.  Her work is so good and interesting
that now I am working my way through the next set, which is called "Niccolo
Rising" and deals with the Renaissance. She writes about the cloth dying
industry, the Italian city states, banking etc.  There are eight of these,
I am done with the third.  This in between reading all the current
political books re Iraq, Bush administration, etc.

This is not to say that I don't read books relating to science, politics,
etc. etc.  It's just that I do this to be an informed citizen and because I
also enjoy it.  So many good books, so little life.  

Veronica


> [Original Message]
> From: John McCreery <mccreery@xxxxxxx>
> To: <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
> Date: 4/29/2004 8:53:55 PM
> Subject: [lit-ideas] Re: "Reading Lolita in Tehran" - "Why one should
bother to re...
>
>
> On 2004/04/29, at 12:42, John Wager wrote:
>
> >  I have
> > come to realize that there is something essentially satisfying about
> > stories, about plots, that discursive writing doesn't have. Telling a
> > story, or listening to a story, gives structure to time, and that's 
> > what
> > life really is: Time. It doesn't matter whether the story is "true" or
> > "fiction," it's the telling and the listening that make stories so
> > fascinating. "Non-fictional" narratives convey truths about external
> > events, but "fictional" narratives convey truths about human 
> > imagination
> > and human desires and human creativity that non-fictional narratives
> > can't convey.
> >
>
> Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. Which is, of course, why the 
> philosopher/scientist is so wary of how seductive a good story can be.
>
>
>
> John L. McCreery
> The Word Works, Ltd.
> 55-13-202 Miyagaya, Nishi-ku
> Yokohama, Japan 220-0006
>
> Tel 81-45-314-9324
> Email mccreery@xxxxxxx
>
> "Making Symbols is Our Business"
>
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