Quotations about   fiction

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The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what Fiction means.

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) Irish poet, wit, dramatist
The Importance of Being Earnest, act 2 (Miss Prism) [1895]
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Added on 28-Feb-19 | Last updated 28-Feb-19
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I look at some of the great novelists, and I think the reason they are great is that they’re telling the truth. The fact is they’re using made-up names, made-up people, made-up places, and made-up times, but they’’re telling the truth about the human being — what we are capable of, what makes us lose, laugh, weep, fall down, and gnash our teeth and wring our hands and kill each other and love each other.

Maya Angelou (1928-2014) American poet, memoirist, activist [b. Marguerite Ann Johnson]
“The Art of Fiction,” Paris Review, #116, Interview with George Plimpton (1990)
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Added on 8-Aug-18 | Last updated 8-Aug-18
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I’m not sure why it happened, and I’m not certain at all when it happened, but at some point, wanting a happy ending became uncool. Maybe it’s the relentless (and again, highly flawed) criticism that “such things aren’t realistic.” To which my response is, so the fuck what? It’s call fiction. If you want real, step outside.

Greg Rucka (b. 1969) American comic book writer and novelist
Lazarus: X+66 #3, letter column (Sep 2017)
Added on 12-Oct-17 | Last updated 12-Oct-17
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But because we grew up surrounded by big dramatic story arcs in books and movies, we think our lives are supposed to be filled with huge ups and downs! So people pretend there is drama where there is none.

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (1922-2007) American novelist, journalist
Lecture
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Added on 24-Aug-17 | Last updated 24-Aug-17
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You advise me, too, not to stray far from the ground of experience, as I become weak when I enter the region of fiction; and you say, “real experience is perennially interesting, and to all men.” I feel that this also is true; but, dear Sir, is not the real experience of each individual very limited? And, if a writer dwells upon that solely or principally, is he not in danger of repeating himself, and also of becoming an egotist? Then, too, imagination is a strong, restless faculty, which claims to be heard and exercised: are we to be quite deaf to her cry, and insensate to her struggles? When she shows us bright pictures, are we never to look at them, and try to reproduce them? And when she is eloquent, and speaks rapidly and urgently in our ear, are we not to write to her dictation?

Charlotte Brontë (1816-1855) British novelist [pseud. Currer Bell]
Letter to G. H. Lewes (6 Nov 1847)
Added on 15-Apr-17 | Last updated 15-Apr-17
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For Fiction is Truth’s elder sister. Obviously. No one in the world knew what truth was till somebody had told a story.

Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) English writer
A Book of Words, ch. 24 “Fiction” (1928)
Added on 23-Feb-17 | Last updated 23-Feb-17
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If you would understand your own age, read the works of fiction produced in it. People in disguise speak freely.

Arthur Helps (1813-1875) English writer and bureaucrat
Thoughts in the Cloister and the Cloud(1835)
Added on 15-Dec-16 | Last updated 15-Dec-16
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The difference between life and the movies is that a script needs to make sense, and life doesn’t.

Joseph Mankiewicz (1909-1993) American screenwriter, director, producer
(Attributed)

See Twain.
Added on 15-Sep-16 | Last updated 15-Sep-16
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Reality provides us with facts so romantic that imagination itself could add nothing to them.

Verne - facts so romantic - wist_info quote

Jules Verne (1828-1905) French novelist, poet, playwright
The Fur Country (1873)
Added on 9-Sep-16 | Last updated 9-Sep-16
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In a book, all would have gone according to plan. … but life was so fucking untidy — what could you say for an existence where some of your most crucial conversations of your life took place when you needed to take a shit, or something? An existence where there weren’t even any chapters?

Stephen King (b. 1947) American author
Misery (1987)
Added on 24-Aug-16 | Last updated 24-Aug-16
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It seems to me that life’s circumstances, being ephemeral, teach us less about durable truths than the fictions based on those truths; and that the best lessons of delicacy and self-respect are to be found in novels where the feelings are so naturally portrayed that you fancy you are witnessing real life as you read.

Germaine de Staël (1766-1817) Swiss-French writer, woman of letters, critic, salonist [Anne Louise Germaine de Staël-Holstein, Madame de Staël, Madame Necker]
Delphine, Preface (1802)
Added on 22-Dec-15 | Last updated 22-Dec-15
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Life is a very bad novelist. It is chaotic and ludicrous.

Javier Marías (b. 1951) Spanish novelist, translator, columnist
“Javier Marías, The Art of Fiction No. 190,” Interview with Sarah Fay, The Paris Review (Winter 2006)
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See also Twain.
Added on 24-Sep-15 | Last updated 24-Sep-15
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Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Following the Equator, ch. 15, epigraph, “Pudd’nhead Wilson’s New Calendar” (1897)
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Sometimes paraphrased, "Why shouldn't truth be stranger than fiction? Fiction, after all, has to make sense." More on this quotation and its variants here.
Added on 17-Jul-15 | Last updated 20-Jan-19
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The so-called lessons of history are for the most part the rationalizations of the victors. History is written by the survivors.

Maxwell "Max" Lerner (1902-1992) American journalist, columnist, educator
It Is Later Than You Think: The Need for a Militant Democracy (1939)
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Added on 24-Mar-15 | Last updated 24-Mar-15
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The reason that fiction is more interesting than any other form of literature, to those who really like to study people, is that in fiction the author can really tell the truth without humiliating himself.

Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) First Lady of the US (1933-45), politician, diplomat, activist
(Attributed)
Added on 12-Dec-14 | Last updated 12-Dec-14
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Science fiction is also a great way to pretend you are writing about the future when in reality you are attacking the recent past and the present.

Ray Bradbury (1920-2012) American writer, futurist, fabulist
Interview, Playboy (1996)
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Added on 12-May-14 | Last updated 12-May-14
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The reason that truth is stranger than fiction is that fiction has to have a rational thread running through it in order to be believable, whereas reality may be totally irrational.

Sydney J. Harris (1917-1986) Anglo-American columnist, journalist, author
(Attributed)

See Twain.
Added on 14-Aug-09 | Last updated 20-Jan-19
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Truth, of course, must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for we have made fiction to suit ourselves.

Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936) English journalist and writer
Heretics (1905)

See Twain.
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 20-Jan-19
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Truth is the most powerful thing in the world, since even fiction itself must be governed by it, and can only please by its resemblance.

Anthony Cooper, 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury (1671-1713) English politician and philosopher
(Attributed)Characteristicks of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times, Vol. 1 “A Letter Concerning Enthusiasm” (1711)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 28-Nov-14
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