The Novel as a Work of Bad Faith
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In fabricating a novel, writers are presenting as real what they know is untrue. Yet it must seem true enough to lure readers, and to seduce them into believing that the work conforms to reality. A large part of this is achieved by the Aristotelian principle of fictional mimesis, the representation of action, which Vernay subdivides into several strands, including illusory representation or “illusionism,” and anti-illusionism or anti-representation, which draws attention to the fictionality of the text. Simultaneously, the writer must improve on the real through displacement in the manner of the Freudian primary purpose. To attempt to connect the real with fiction (the oxymoronic concept of ‘true lies’) is therefore futile: The very essence of the novel renders impossible all quests for truth.