Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Getting the Facts Straight about Works of Fiction

Originally posted 11/27/07, 4:50 PM, Eastern Daylight Time.
Recently I posted about a misquote about a Midrash. Several people on some lists plus a friend of mine seemed to say - Big Deal? The Midrash is not literal anyway! It's fictional, legendary etc.

Here is my response:
My original post was to point out how a text got misquoted and misconstrued.
If a guest lecturer in Literature were to Confuse:
  1. Hercules with Achilles in discussing Homer's Illiad or
  2. Tom Sawyer with Huck Finn while discussing Mark Twain or
  3. The Revolutionary War wtith the Civil war when talking on Gone with the Wind

Would they be wrong because these literary classics are ONLY fiction?

Many list members seem to be Treating the Midrash as LESS than a simple literary work! It was like hitting a raw nerve by articulating the N word or something! I would suppose [I cannot say for sure] that they would be critical of any speaker for mixing up facts about a work of literary fiction but when it comes to Jewish legend - who cares if the speaker misquotes? After all it's not a historical/factual book anyway? Frankly - I do not fathom the point. Misrepresenting a text is simply misrepresenting a text...

I used to laugh at the Song of Roland for projecting a Christian -style Trinity onto the Moslems. It was so silly. Now you could ask - as a Jew who cares what the Christians say regarding the Muslims? It's just the sheer inaccuracy of it all that bothers me, plain and simple. It just seems obvious to me that people who have a passion for truth must be concerned with accurately transmitting even fictional accounts
Bottom line, good quality demands quoting the Midrash accurately as no worse than any other piece of literature. Its intrinsic factual basis is irrelevant on that point


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