The purpose of fiction

Fiction can educate intellectually, but that is not its main purpose, which is to educate and regulate the sentiments. If you can wiggle it in, an argument that shows that courage is good is good, but first and foremost, what a work of fiction should do is show that courage is admirable.

Mary Catelli


  1. Instead, most of the stuff pushed at me is “why the world sucks, evil is cool and we’re all hopeless.”


    • Indeed.

      But this is not an exception to Mary’s rule. After all, when they push that stuff at you, they are trying to make evil seem admirable. And the way to do that is to pretend that we are all living in Crapsack World, so that all good things are illusions, and being not-evil is for suckers.

      • I figured it was proof that the stuff was failed fiction. 😀

        The purpose is to properly form the mind– and instead it tries to deform it.

        Sounds like a failure to me.

        • It’s a failure all right, but not at the level of fiction. What we have here is a moral and philosophical failure in the author. A man who is badly enough broken to be a nihilist and admire evil has more things wrong with him than his inability to write edifying stories.

          • True, but I’m not trying to judge the author– I’m looking at just the fiction. (I’ve seen some well done fiction that succeeds in spite of very obviously broken authors, because they give in to the power of the story calling to the unbroken part of themselves.)

            • Stephen J. says

              What works are you thinking of in particular? I’d be interested to see this in action.

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