Friday, September 20, 2002

An essay on fictional biographies such as Billy the Kid in the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's magazine Headspace titled 'The Fantasy of Authenticity.' One example of the genre is J M Coetzee's The Master of Petersburg, based on the life of Dostoevsky. The following extract from the book is a monologue of the fictional Dostoevsky:

'What is it that frightens you, Councillor Maximov? When you read about Karamzin or Karamzov or whatever his name is, when Karamzin’s skull is cracked open like an egg, what is the truth: do you suffer with him, or do you secretly exult behind the arm that swings the axe? You don’t answer? Let me tell you then: reading is being the arm and being the axe and being the skull: reading is giving yourself up, not holding yourself at a distance and jeering.'