This volume ranges widely over literary works of many centuries and diverse cultures. It discusses: why the topic has seemed so important to so many authors and readers; how the terms "truth" and "lies" have been diversely defined; how (if at all) literature can contribute to serious exploration of this important moral issue; and how and why the theme continues to remain so relevant. Some important thinkers have seen literature as a key means of apprehending and propagating truth; others (such as Plato) have associated literature itself with inveterate lying. This volume explores how creative writers have dealt with this controversy in different ways.
This volume, like all others in the Critical Insights series, is divided into several sections. It begins with an introductory piece, “Truth and Lies in Literature: Some Examples from Shakespeare” by volume editor Robert C. Evans which discusses the theme of distinguishing truth from falsehood in many of Shakespeare’s famous works.
Following the introductory essay, a collection of four critical contexts essays are intended to treat the topic (1) from a historical vantage point, (2) in terms of pre-existing discussion of the topic, (3) using a specific critical lens, and (4) by comparing and contrasting at least two different texts.
This section opens with an essay by Steven D. Ealy titled, “Fact or Fiction, Truth or Lies?: An Introduction to ‘The Kentucky Tragedy’”. This essay examines the world’s struggle with truth and falsity, as present in the past as it is now from what is being told as news with The Kentucky Tragedy as an example. This is followed by a piece written by Joyce Ahn, “Secrecy in American Literature and Culture: An Overview” The following two articles are written by Derek Allan and Brandon Schneeberger respectively. The first, “Literature and Knowledge” dealing at length the question whether fictional literature can be a source of knowledge about the world and reality, and what kind of knowledge it would be. The final essay, “The Play’s the Thing: Masking in Hamlet and Mansfield Park” discusses the shared theme of truth and lies between Hamlet and Mansfield Park, showcasing the importance of the truth, masking lies and deception, and how these themes dominate both works.
Following these four Critical Context essays is the Critical Readings section of this book, which contains the following essays:
- Truth and Lies in Life, Literature, and Literary Theory, by Edwin Wong
- Men and Women/Truth and Lies in Two Intriguing Poems from the English Renaissance, by Robert C. Evans
- Truth and Lies in Early Modern Literature, by Brandon Schneeberger
- Lies, Truth, and Parable in Tolstoy’s “The Death of Ivan Ilych,”, by Christopher Baker
- Marlow’s “European mind”: Subjective Truth and the Unreliable Narrator in Lord Jim, by Matthew M. Thiele
- “Truth” and “Falsehood” in the Paranormal Thought of J.R.R. Tolkien, by Nancy Bunting
- “Truth” and “Lies” in the Life and Career of Zora Neale Hurston: New Evidence from African American Newspapers from 1925 to the Early 1940s, by Robert C. Evans
- “Truth” and “Lies” in the Life and Career of Zora Neale Hurston: New Evidence from African American Newspapers from the Early 1940s to the Mid-1950s, by Robert C. Evans
- Multi-level Truths and Lies in Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, by Franco Manni
- “My offences against veracity”: Truth, Lies, and Literature in Ian McEwan’s Atonement, by Darren Harris-Fain
In the final section, Resources, a select bibliography of additional works that are pertinent to the theme is provided. Each essay in Critical Insights: Truth & Lies includes a list of Works Cited and detailed endnotes. Also included in this volume is a Bibliography, biographies of the Editor and Contributors, and an alphabetical Index.
The Critical Insights series distills the best of both classic and current literary criticism of the world’s most studies literature. Edited and written by some of academia’s most distinguished literary scholars, Critical Insights: Truth & Lies provides authoritative, in-depth scholarship that students and researchers will rely on for years. This volume is destined to become a valuable purchase for all.
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