Lying truths: diaries as historical documents and the craft of fiction

Simpson, Lindsay (2007) Lying truths: diaries as historical documents and the craft of fiction. In: Proceedings of the 12th Conference of the Australian Association of Writing Programs. From: The 12th conference of the AAWP, 21-23 November 2007, Canberra, Australia.

Download (210kB)
View at Publisher Website:


According to Michel Foucault, it is possible 'to make fiction work within truth, to induce truth-effects within a fictional discourse, and in some way to make the discourse of truth arouse, "fabricate" something which does not as yet exist, thus 'fiction' something'. Drawing on Foucault's observations, my paper sets out to give an individual perspective on the positioning of the writer as a participant/observer by employing three nineteenth century diaries as a basis for creating character in my own novel, The Curer of Souls. Specifically, it will consider how primary sources such as real diaries can be used to reconfigure the archives and restore buried discourses. The diarists' words invoke a primal telling which involves the voice in the original sining on the world. Adopting the diarists' written words, viewpoints, idiosyncrasies and modes of speech with an historical context helps the writer recreate the cultural fabric of characters' lives. Diaries are scrapbooks of the self that conjure up characters and fuel the imagination of the writer but how reliable are they as a representation of the past? Can fictional tools be used to map the silence of the diarists 'to make fiction work within truth'? The paper explores ways in which the writer negotiates the diary as a source for characterisation.

Item ID: 1827
Item Type: Conference Item (Research - E1)
ISBN: 978-1-74-088273-6
Keywords: history; fiction; diaries; writing; historical novel; diaries; fictional history; fact/fiction; primary sources
Related URLs:
Date Deposited: 07 Feb 2008
FoR Codes: 19 STUDIES IN CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING > 1904 Performing Arts and Creative Writing > 190402 Creative Writing (incl Playwriting) @ 50%
21 HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 2199 Other History and Archaeology > 219999 History and Archaeology not elsewhere classified @ 50%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9501 Arts and Leisure > 950104 The Creative Arts (incl. Graphics and Craft) @ 100%
Downloads: Total: 381
Last 12 Months: 14
More Statistics

Actions (Repository Staff Only)

Item Control Page Item Control Page