Thursday, October 30, 2008

More on "Stranger Than Fiction"

Here, for your amusement and edification, are the three appearances of this great insight of GKC:

1. ..."you seem to be going in for journalese proverbs. Do you believe that truth is stranger than fiction?"
"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction," said Basil placidly. "For fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it."
[GKC, "The Singular Speculation of the House Agent" in The Club of Queer Trades (1904)]

2. [Shaw] has based all his brilliancy and solidity upon the hackneyed, but yet forgotten, fact that truth is stranger than fiction. Truth, of course, must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for we have made fiction to suit ourselves.
[GKC, Heretics CW1:66 (1905)]

3. ...we must not mix up the ghost story, which is a story about a ghost, with some other technical type of tale, such as a story about a corpse. The ideas are on two different planes, and one willalways suffer from the presence of the other. Either the spiritual story will be much too thin, or the blood and bones story will be a bit too thick. Ghosts, in short, may wander about in real life, if they like, because truth is stranger than fiction; but in the refined world of fiction we must be a little more exclusive and fastidious in our selection of ghosts. They must be family ghosts in the sense of ghosts of good family; or only living (like the dear old butler) with the best. A mere mob of phantoms, for all I know, may march like an army up the high road of history; but we must know more about the particular ghost before we allow him to appear in so serious a thing as a novel.
[GKC ILN May 30, 1936; special thanks to Frank Petta and my mother for this essay]
So there you have them. I do not say GKC wrote no others, though it is very unlikely; there are a few other appearances of "stranger than", of which this, though possibly tendentious, is worth consideration:
All that dark and yet exuberant imagery belongs to a tradition that can be seen in the art and ornament of Spain. It can be seen in the special Spanish love of black; the black which is not the negation of colour, but rather the accumulation of colour. It can be seen in the rich darkness of Spanish churches, fretted with the golden fire of countless candles. But it can be seen fully and completely only in the world-wide spreading of the Spanish culture in the sixteenth century, when it met on its borders monsters stranger than whales; red men and golden mountains and a new world. It had many crimes, which are not hidden in Claudel's poem, but it had this very enviable greatness that strange stars and new sciences were then opened to a Christian world that was still full of chivalry; of which wicked men colonised for greed, but good men did not colonise only for commerce; when the white man was as romantic a figure as the red man, and trade had not destroyed the Red Indian to replace him by the Regular Guy.
[GKC ILN Mar 19 1932; reprinted in All I Survey; thanks again to Frank Petta and my mother]
So what I would like to know is: when will ChesterTeens (by that or any other name) be publishing their first book of fiction? I for one would like to read some of your fiction, be they about ghosts, corpses, Spain, or whales....

P.S. I would like to address Old Fashioned Liberal's comment about creativity being a kind of discovery, but I have other chores, and (due to the expected length of my reply) I would prefer to handle it elsewhere, since it will require a short presentation of a very interesting result of automata theory, which few of our audience may have at their disposal. But it ought to be quite interesting, if I ever get to it.

5 comments:

Old Fashioned Liberal said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Old Fashioned Liberal said...

Dr. Thursday,
An excellent challenge...would you want that work of fiction posted here or somewhere else?

Dr. Thursday said...

I have no authority to speak for our hosts, but I chose to post my story on my story-blogg, and merely made an announcement with a link.

Love2Learn Mom said...

I do appreciate the method of posting elsewhere and linking to it from here so it doesn't disrupt the flow of conversation.

Thanks for setting a helpful precedent Dr. T! :)

Lewis the Editor said...

I'm working on it, but it's taking a long time! Maybe if we're still around in a couple years...