LITERATURE and WRITING: More on Verisimilitude

In morning light I find myself thinking more on the idea of verisimilitude, how the line is seen by the writer in consideration of the reader.  The term, I believe, means more about appearing to be reality than actual reality.  Thus, the ghosts, the yellow flowers falling from the sky, the ascension of Remedios the Beauty in 100 Years of Solitude may even be acceptable under its terms if the reader has come to believe that at least in the town of Macondo, these things happen and are not out of place.  In The Body Artist, the sudden appearance of the strange little man in an upstairs bedroom is questioned appropriately by Laura, so that we trust her by acting as we would in this situation.  The tools are used differently by each author; Marquez asks us to suspend belief and go with the flow while Delillo gives his character the wherewithall to accept it for us.

So then it seems the writer must have established some form of trust on the part of the reader when he stretches the boundaries of reality to include that which would not otherwise be within it for us.  In Octavio Paz’s The Wave, many will never come to accept the wave as a woman-like creature, while others will not question that she rides the bus as a jug of water and turns into an ice sculpture in the winter cold.  This pushing of the envelope on the part of Paz still creates reader input as even those who do not accept what he lays out as real attempt to justify the story–if they like it well enough–by various theories such as the protagonist is delusionary, etc.

But I’m liking this idea of verisimilitude more and more when rather than being considered to be a reality check, it extends to cover the more difficult to accomplish suspension of belief.  Lots more interesting for the reader; lots more satisfying for the writer.

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