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Matters of Fact: Reading Nonfiction over the Edge

Matters of Fact: Reading Nonfiction over the Edge Daniel Lehman, Matters of Fact: Reading Nonfiction over the Edge. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, . x +  pp. In his book, which deals with nonfictional narrative, Lehman criticizes what he diagnoses as a tendency in the current critical climate, namely, the blurring of meaningful distinctions between fiction and nonfiction. This is usually done nowadays by appeal to some variant of the argument that, since experiences can be approached only through the stories we tell about them and since the construction of these stories depends on relativistic cultural conventions, it is futile to attempt to decide what is really a ‘‘true’’ account of any event. While acknowledging the impossibility of formulating empirical standards of truth with certainty, Lehman still contends that both reading and writing nonfiction are fundamentally different from reading and writing even the most strongly realistic kind of fiction. According to Poetics Today 22:4 him, this difference stems from the nature of the communicative situation that obtains between writers and readers, in which both sides are aware that texts defined as nonfiction claim to be linked to actual subjects and events and therefore that the worlds created in them always compete with the lives and http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Poetics Today: International Journal for Theory and Analysis of Literature and Communication Duke University Press

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
Copyright 2001 by Porter Institute for Poetics and Semiotics, Tel Aviv University
ISSN
0333-5372
eISSN
1527-5507
DOI
10.1215/03335372-22-4-867
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Daniel Lehman, Matters of Fact: Reading Nonfiction over the Edge. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, . x +  pp. In his book, which deals with nonfictional narrative, Lehman criticizes what he diagnoses as a tendency in the current critical climate, namely, the blurring of meaningful distinctions between fiction and nonfiction. This is usually done nowadays by appeal to some variant of the argument that, since experiences can be approached only through the stories we tell about them and since the construction of these stories depends on relativistic cultural conventions, it is futile to attempt to decide what is really a ‘‘true’’ account of any event. While acknowledging the impossibility of formulating empirical standards of truth with certainty, Lehman still contends that both reading and writing nonfiction are fundamentally different from reading and writing even the most strongly realistic kind of fiction. According to Poetics Today 22:4 him, this difference stems from the nature of the communicative situation that obtains between writers and readers, in which both sides are aware that texts defined as nonfiction claim to be linked to actual subjects and events and therefore that the worlds created in them always compete with the lives and

Journal

Poetics Today: International Journal for Theory and Analysis of Literature and CommunicationDuke University Press

Published: Dec 1, 2001

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