Monday, 22 March 2010

Once More with Verisimilitude

Some time ago now, I posted a piece in here entitled "To Seem or Not to Seem", in which I discussed the concept of verisimilitude. Recently while looking for an article by author Salman Rushdie, I came across Alison Flood's piece "Rushdie attacks Slumdog Millionaire's 'impossible' plot" on the Guardian's on-line books pages and was once more reminded of people's narrow-minded view of and failure to understand this concept.

Flood opens her brief piece on Rushdie's sharp critique of director Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionairewith the following statement:
You might think that a writer whose own characters have included telepaths and angels would not worry too much about a story's believability, but Salman Rushdie has taken serious issue with the credibility of this year's Oscars sensation Slumdog Millionaire.
The innate stupidity of this sentence makes me wince quite literally. Because obviously the inclusion of fantastical elements such as telepaths and angels need never be sold to the audience, right? Nor, of course, need authors (or directors or artists, etc) dealing which such elements bother with credibility or believability, right?

After all, clearly the potential audiences of such things buy anything coming their way. If they are ready to embrace a fantastical element as part of a fictional reality, clearly they have thrown all logic out the window, stopped caring and suspended all possible kinds of disbelief. I mean, why would anyone invest themselves in any way in something obviously not real, right? Something like, say, fiction.


  1. Jonas Thente i DN: "Det paradoxala med science fiction, fantasy och fantastik över huvud taget är att den ofta måste vara extremt realistisk. Förutsättningarna, världen och logiken är främmande och måste därför tydligt framställas utan att för den skull bli till torftig läsning. Till skillnad från den sortens berättelser som brukar kallas för realistiska, och som inte på samma sätt behöver anstränga sig att skapa världen eftersom förutsättningarna redan är givna för läsaren."
    Men jo, man måste anstränga sig för trovärdighet även när man skriver "realistiskt", vilket mugglarförfattare (av det mer bästsäljande slaget åtminstone) riskerar glömma ...