Sunday, April 16, 2006

Experiencing Fiction

William Sloane on the experience of reading fiction:

I believe that fiction is as much of a reality as any other experience that the reader undertakes. Call it vicarious if you like, but the reader is not a spectator, he is a participant. A novel can make you laugh or cry or go looking for someone you crave. These things are so real they are physiological. Vicarious? Perhaps, but not disembodied.

From The Craft of Writing (W.W. Norton & Company, 1979) at 40.


Dorothy W. said...

I like that idea -- that reading fiction is not disembodied. It's too easy to think that it is, and that reading and physical experiences are separate. I don't like to be dualist if I can help it!

Jordan said...

I like that. Reading fiction is certainly a unique experience for each reader, I don't think that can be disputed.

moonlight ambulette said...

I used to be a TA for a freshman Shakespeare class, and some awesome things happened. As in, trying to spark a conversation about the, you know, controversial "Merchant of Venice" -- who's the hero, who's the villian, etc -- I asked the probing question, Well which character do you most identify with?

There was this long silence. Then one of my students piped up: "But they're not real. How could you identify with any of them? They're just made up!"

It was like, whoa. What do you even say. You're, um, missing the entire point of the whole project of writing and literature. Jeez.