Why we read imaginative fiction

December 22nd, 2006

I found Ursula Leguin’s article http://www.newstatesman.com/200612180040
entitled Imaginary Friends well worth reading. I think this is what many of us try to articulate when we hear, “Oh, my kids read fantasy. I prefer real stories.”


8 Responses to “Why we read imaginative fiction”

  1. Michael Martineon 22 Dec 2006 at 9:40 pm

    To conflate fantasy with immaturity is a rather sizeable error.

    Exactly. Thank you for posting this link.

  2. Mary Osmanskion 23 Dec 2006 at 2:47 pm

    I think the ones that annoy me the most are the ones on airplanes, trains, and such who sneer, “I never read fiction. Made up stories don’t interest me. I only read things that are true.”

    [Of course this begs the question of things such as how much media news reporting is “true,” or how many tellings of incidents in a celebrity biography have been “adapted” to make them seem more flattering, amusing, or dramatic.]

  3. Joshon 23 Dec 2006 at 3:34 pm

    I believe people often link fantasy or speculative fiction in general as “escapist.” Just a way to avoid responsibility, bills, real relationships, etc. However, I believe some of the most stark, true and real emotions, philosophy, social awareness and the like come through the huge shift in perspective that a reader gets when they are brought into a fantasy world and are able to break away from the concrete reality they have built around themselves.

  4. Mark Tiedemannon 24 Dec 2006 at 4:35 pm

    “I never read fiction. Made up stories don’t interest me. I only read things that are true.”

    All this tells me is the speaker has no idea what Truth is. As with most folks we encounter, they have some notion that Fact and Truth are the same thing.

    I occasionally wonder how they manage to get through religious services with this prejudice intact…

  5. John Johansenon 24 Dec 2006 at 9:24 pm

    Just another reason why LeGuin is one of my favorite authors.

  6. Betsy Dornbuschon 25 Dec 2006 at 7:06 pm

    And fantasy is just plain fun . Thanks for the link.

  7. kateelliotton 26 Dec 2006 at 6:01 pm

    here should be a word – “maturismo”, like “machismo”? – for the anxious savagery of the intellectual who thinks his adulthood has been impugned.

    My favorite line!

  8. Carol Bergon 27 Dec 2006 at 2:52 am

    Ofttimes people ask me why I stick with fantasy, as it is “such a small part of the market.” My simplest answer to the question is, “I can tell any human story and incorporate the matter of every genre–mystery, romance, history, etc.–in a world of my own devising. I love what I do.”


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