View Full Version : Non-Fiction that proves to be Fiction
According to his book "En vill mann" (A Wild Man), he spent a whole year hunting, fishing and trapping in some part of Norway, living rough, and so on. But this purported survival expert, who also appeared on TV documentaries, is a fake who stayed in a hotel just over the Swedish border:
Remember the name of the hardy "non-fiction" con man Kristoffer Clausen.
I think the most insidious kind of "Non-Fiction that proves to be fiction" is that actually purported by so-called academics
For example, Keith Windschuttle's released volumes of "The Fabrication of Aboriginal History" basically accuse other, more qualified historians of making up numbers of Aboriginal deaths etc for political purposes and then he proceeds to obviously make up numbers of Aboriginal deaths for obvious political purposes whilst being backed up by the shrill Murdoch machine.
If it didn't fire up historians and get them to be a little more careful with their historiography lest some ex-socialist has a mid-life crisis, it'd make me far angrier than it does.
Fascinating. I wonder whether Clausen was caught out because of discrepencies/misinformation in the book? (I'm willing to look at Telegraph links but Daily Mail is a step too far, so don't know whether exposure was explained there.) Early in 20th century there was a chap in US much like this one: claimed to have been living a similar life in Maine forests and, briefly, was very famous indeed for supposed exploits.
As for thread title, surely the most notorious and for all I know the most harmful example is Protocols of the Elders of Zion . . .
I remember after having read Never Cry Wolf, People of the Deer, and a book or two more by Farley Mowat, I was disappointed to come across an article about how these books are more fiction than non.
Mowat I gather writes about the arctic? Think I remember a famous book about the Inuit, perhaps Nanook, also turning out to be less than faithful to reality. There's a thread on 'blogosphere' re a book written by--again, as I remember--a Russian sent to a prison in Siberia that's also apparently at least partly fictional. Not to mention any book by Castaneda about his experiences in South America. Strikes me that all these were written about remote places most readers would be woefully ignorant about and if that ignorance is coupled with a willingness to believe that all remote places and all unfamiliar cultures are 'exotic' it's little wonder that some books like these go unquestioned for years.
I'll refrain from adding to the list of crimes, this thread makes me wonder about our conventional distinction between "fiction" and "non-fiction". The shōsetsu, the so called "chronicle novel" - often taking the form of newspaper article pumped and perverted into what on calls fiction - puts a fine tooth comb to the factual report in general. It was said lately by a historian form Cornell - himself quoting an earlier work - that an "ideal chronicle", one of pure facticity, full of only facts, would be useless to a historian (true, this is a stance far from generally held, but it is in sympathy with the growing filed of phenomenological and first person methodologies). His point is that the historian, on his view, must show the importance of events to people, otherwise the list of facts as such - which he considers impossible for other reasons - would be both endless and empty. True, here (in the thread above) we speak of the misuse of data concerning deaths, and it would be out of place merely to quote Twain to the effect of lies damn lies and statistics: yet it is just the question of what deaths and wrongs are and when they should be, as one theorist recently put it, the subject of grievability, that concerns the Historian (and so the reporter and 'factualist' in general). As Melville said, civilized man is "the most ferocious animal on the face of the earth", perhaps the ungrieved deaths in slaughterhouses have something to do with the secret link between our daily chronicling of the world (which goes on within us too) and our actions, the strongest lie is in the establishment of a fact that excludes the possibility of forms of guilt and care. For instance, within the bareness of contemporary civilization one might speak of killing when murder was the thing.
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