Monday, April 28, 2014

The Dangers of Fictitious Truth and Vice Versa

On page 3 of the preface of Poe’s The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym and Related Tales, the “author” clearly states the importance of distinguishing fiction from truth. I found this really interesting to be in a work of fiction and I can only assume that it is there purely because Poe was clearly aware of the problems that occur when the line between fiction and truth is blurred. If this is the case, I totally sympathize with Poe’s sentiment as I, myself, have felt somewhat betrayed by an author if, when reading a supposed “true story,” I discover that much of the events and dialogue have been embellished or even created. As soon as I discovered this in several of the narratives we read this semester, the author, in my mind, completely lost his credibility and my interest in the work took a serious hit. Consequently, in light of this, it seems that Poe, recognizing the potential dangers and the possibility of insult to the reader, is either making fun of the reader and playing with satire, since this is a novel, or he is, through the voice of A. Gordon Pym, cleverly hinting at the fact that this novel is in fact a work of fiction in the case that an ill-informed reader mistakes the fictitious events in the life of A. Gordon Pym for a true story. 

1 comment:

  1. I like that you mention that maybe Poe includes this disclaimer as a way of "cleverly hinting at the fact that this novel is in fact a work of fiction." That did not occur to me at all when I first read this and I read this particular part of the preface much differently. But after someone, Isabel I think, mentioned in class the time when they broadcast War of the Worlds on the radio and people panicked because they thought it was real, I got to thinking. How would Poe's audience have responded to this if he hadn't included this disclaimer? But on the flip side, does the fact that he includes himself as a character adds an element of realism, so is Poe actually playing with his readers here?