Monday, April 28, 2014

"Natural and Unavoidable Exaggeration" in every narrative

From the beginning of Pym I have been taking note of the commentary on what it means to write a narrative. From the beginning of the preface I thought that Poe clearly addresses the question of authenticity that we have discussed often in class. How authentic is it? Why do we care? Poe articulately describes how narratives and the aim for truth work naturally-- "as to have the appearance of truth it would really possess, barring only the natural and unavoidable exaggeration to which all of us are prone when detailing events which have had powerful influence in exciting the imaginative faculties" (Preface, 2). And furthermore, "In no affairs of mere prejudice, pro or con, do we deduce inferences with entire certainty, even from the most simple data" (13). These quotes looks at the inevitable flaws in human recollection, specifically narratives.

Poe highlights how no narrative is accurate or entirely true. Everyone manipulates a narrative they construct simply because it is our brain and our imagination that has created it, and everyones mind is different and will perceive, process, and interpret things differently, even if it is only to the slightest degree. No narrative is flawless and exactly aligned with what "actually" happened. This addresses the concept of authenticity within technically non-fiction books but does not really apply to our discussion on fiction versus nonfiction and how we evaluate those differently. Poe (or Pym) says that the narrative is so absurd it may be hard for readers to believe it, he can only hope for belief... how does this impact the way we read Pym's narrative- does it at all? How are we viewing this narrative different to the others we've read?

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