The discourse of truth: new journalism and novels

Автор: Kharitonov Dmitry V.

Журнал: Новый филологический вестник @slovorggu

Рубрика: Зарубежные литературы

Статья в выпуске: 1 (52), 2020 года.

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The aim of this paper is to analyze a peculiar case of interaction between nonfiction and fiction. The starting point of analysis is the famous introduction by the American writer Tom Wolfe to The New Journalism anthology (1973) where he praises realism, which he finds capable of uniquely - physiologically - affecting the reader, and claims that New Journalism brought realism back to American letters, repeating an important episode in the history of literature: the emergence of the realistic novel in 18th century England. These statements have not yet received their due critical attention. As was shown by researchers (M. Dickstein, J. Hartsock, B. Shapiro), this novel emerged from the imitation of antecedent nonfiction and was meant to affect the reader by its borrowed “truthfulness.” In this “truthfulness” one recognizes the paradoxical idea of “fictional truth,” inherent to the novel, which engaged the literary critic M. Riffaterre and philosopher G. Currie (among others). It becomes possible to assume that British “literature of fact” of the late 17th century provided patterns of truthful and verisimilar narrative, while the realistic novel formed “the poetics of truth” that conveyed to the reader communicative aesthetic experience of encountering narrative's “reality.” The studies in evolutionary biology, neurophysiology, and cognitivism corroborate this assumption and, accordingly, prove Tom Wolfe's first statement to be correct. His second statement is half-right: what happened in the 1960s was not so much the return of realism to American literature as another emergence of a literary form from the tension between fiction and nonfiction. New Journalism imitated the novel as novel imitated “literature of fact” in the 18th century.


Nonfiction, literary journalism, new journalism, realism,

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IDR: 149127414   |   DOI: 10.24411/2072-9316-2020-00020

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