Yet even fiction is a fiction, a word which developed out of the Latin fingere, “to fashion or form.” In the Oxford English Dictionary, the first definition of “fiction,” now obsolete, is “the action of fashioning or imitating,” and is related to the verb “to feign.” The word first referred to all kinds of art, “The . . . Art of Painting . . . surpassing by so many Degrees . . . all other Human Fiction, or imitative Art” (Lord Shaftesbury in his Characteristicks).
How would you feel if you heard that a book had been written about you without your knowledge or permission? You would worry, I’m sure, about how it portrayed you. Unfortunately, Don Quixote has just learned from Sancho Panza that a book of their exploits is spreading across Europe and the book portrays him a madman and Sancho a fool. The knight dispatches his chubby squire to fetch the bachelor who has read the book El Ingenioso Hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha.
Mancha, in Spanish, means “stain,” and in La Mancha, the region Don Quixote comes from, everything is true. So, for our purposes the excellent word “Mancha” will symbolize truth, which stains every page of Cervantes’ masterpiece (not to mention your screen).
Absolute truth: In response to posts on my blog in which I attempted to show that everything is fiction, my dad wrote, “There are countless absolute truths. Example: Two apples added to a basket containing two apples will make a total of four apples in the basket.” I agree absolutely. I believe in baskets and apples. I believe in reality. (What a ridiculous statement!)
Subjective truth: Let me take out the “I believe–” and say, “Reality exists.” (Was I able to remove the “I believe–“? I wrote the statement “Reality exists,” so it must be what I believe. Strangely enough the existence of reality has been in question for quite some time, maybe even some of you readers doubt reality.)