All entries for Tuesday 28 March 2006

March 28, 2006

The responsibility of authors

I've just recalled an interview I was listening to a couple of months ago on Radio 4. The interviewees were two authors. One was describing the thought processes she went through when planning her latest novel: it sounded like a relatively popularist feelgood yarn. The other then seemed to criticise her methods by saying that 'serious' authors had a duty to always reflect reality in their writings. This jarred with me slightly.

The recent court case surrounding Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code also springs to mind. Quite apart from the accusations of plagiarism, Brown managed to anger many, particularly the church, for presenting as truth much pure speculation about Jesus and the early church. Should he have done this?

  • Should writers of fiction feel a responsibility, or indeed be compelled, to write the truth or reflect reality?

  • Can we classify books as 'serious' only if they are a reflection of reality?

  • Is it not also a valid property of books that they can transport us elsewhere, sometimes far from reality, in flights of enjoyable escapism?

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