are novelists liars?

Interviewer: Are novelists liars, and if they are not, what kind of truth do they tell?

Italo Calvino: Novelists tell that truth hidden at the bottom of every lie. To a psychoanalyst it is not so important whether you tell the truth or a lie because lies are as interesting, as eloquent and revealing as any claimed truth.

I feel suspicious about writers who claim to tell the whole truth about themselves, about life, or about the world. I would prefer to stay with the truths I find in writers who present themselves as the most boldfaced liars. My goal in writing If On A Winter’s Night A Traveler was to find in this way a truth that I would not have been able to find otherwise.

From the Paris Review issue 124, the Art of Fiction Interview with Italo Calvino.

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