News of the World

Title: “Quixote, Colbert, and the Reality of Fiction.” Author: William Egginton – Source: NY Times – 9/25/2011

Every so often, a defense of the humanities becomes necessary (the frequency seems to be increasing).  This is such a defense, and a defense of fiction as an epistemology in particular.  Egginton makes a good case for narratives providing the basis of all human understandings of ‘reality’.  A key quote:

Cervantes is not parodying the tales of chivalry but rather the inability to suspend the judgment of truth and falsity that reduces all narrative to one standard.

Fiction forces us to suspend not simply belief in the physical presence of the world but also our beliefs about relations–our historical and ethical understandings.  Fiction forces a dialectical mode of thought, and that, in turn, encourages critical thinking as a regular, working mode of thought.



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