Fatal to the Imagination

“Many a young man starts in life with a natural gift for exaggeration which, if nurtured in congenial and sympathetic surroundings, or by the imitation of the best models, might grow into something really great and wonderful. But, as a rule, he comes to nothing. He either falls into careless habits of accuracy, or takes to frequenting the society of the aged and the well-informed. Both things are equally fatal to his imagination, as indeed they would be fatal to the imagination of anybody, and in a short time he develops a morbid and unhealthy faculty of truth-telling, begins to verify all statements made in his presence, has no hesitation contradicting people who are much younger than himself, and often ends by writing novels which are so like life that no one can possibly believe in their probability. ”

-Wilde, Oscar. The Decay of Lying. New York: Bertano’s, 1905. 9-10. Web. <http://archive.org/details/partialportraits00jameiala>.

Notes: Extreme truth, full circle, oh the irony.

“It is still expected, though perhaps people are ashamed to say it, that a production which is after all only a ‘make-believe’ (for what else is a ‘story’?) shall be in some degree apologetic -shall renounce the pretension of attempting really to represent life. This, of course, any sensible, wide-awake story declines to do, for it quickly perceives that the tolerance granted to it on such a condition is only an attempt to stifle it disguised in the form of generosity.”

-James, Henry. Major Stories and Essays. New York: Library of America College Edition, 1999. 573. Print.

Notes: Book snobs, destruction of fiction, real literature, real life.

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