Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Truth in the Form of Fiction

     Poe’s novel, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pynn, seems to highlight some of the pros and cons of fiction versus nonfiction narratives. We have discussed in class that nonfiction books tend to be more susceptible to criticism by readers on accuracy and choices made. We have, ourselves, criticized several aspects of the nonfiction books we have read thus far (i.e. validity of facts, decisions made by leaders etc).  In the preface, we see that Pym (an extension of Poe) is struggling with this particular decision as he was urged to share his narrative to the public. Pym is afraid to do so because he did not keep a journal and might be unable to write from “mere memory.” He states that he could “only hope for belief among my family, and those of my friends who have had reason, through life, to put faith in my veracity”(2). This indicates that not only do we enjoy communicating our adventures for validation but also have a fear of being discredited. A “dishonest” narrative can be seen worse than not having shared the adventure story and thus Pym felt initially reluctant to "recount" his adventure. Even as a fiction novel, it can't help but contain several elements of truth by shedding light on aspects of human nature.

1 comment:

  1. Felipe, I agree with you. I also think Poe is using Pym to show the importance of nonfiction writing being true and the consequences of the loss of credibility if it is too embellished. However, I also think, as I wrote in my post, that Poe may in fact be playing with satire and poking fun at the reader because of the reader's usual reaction to freak out and instantly distrust a nonfiction narrative the moment they read something that might not be 100% true. And in doing this in the preface, Poe's entire novel may itself be a satire that pokes fun at both the reader and the gray area between fiction and nonfiction.