Fiction is not imagination. It is what anticipates imagination by giving it the form of reality. This is quite opposite to our own natural tendency which is to anticipate reality by imagining it, or to flee from it by idealizing it. That is why we shall never inhabit true fiction; we are condemned to the imaginary and nostalgia for the future.
Although our productions have afforded more extensive and unaffected pleasure than those of any other literary corporation in the world, no species of composition has been so much decried. "And what are you reading, Miss -- -?" "Oh! it is only a novel!" replies the young lady; while she lays down her book with affected indifference, or momentary shame. "It is only Cecilia, or Camilla, or Belinda "; or, in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humor, are conveyed to the world in the best chosen language.
- Jane Austen
Undermining experience, embellishing experience, rearranging and enlarging experience into a species of mythology.
- Philip Roth
No matter how ephemeral it is, a novel is something, while despair is nothing.
- Mario Vargas Llosa
When I heard the word "stream" uttered with such a revolting primness, what I think of is urine and not the contemporary novel. And besides, it isn't new, it is far from the dernier cri. Shakespeare used it continually, much too much in my opinion, and there's Tristam Shandy, not to mention the Agamemnon.
- James Joyce
There is something else which has the power to awaken us to the truth. It is the works of writers of genius. They give us, in the guise of fiction, something equivalent to the actual density of the real, that density which life offers us every day but which we are unable to grasp because we are amusing ourselves with lies.
- Simone Weil
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