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a polite fiction

A general untruth or falsehood that is accepted in place of the truth to maintain politeness, civility, or stability among a given social group. Our parents' marriage was just a polite fiction in our household up until my youngest sister was off to college. By the time the military junta overthrew the dictatorship, the promise of democratic rule was little more than a polite fiction among the citizens of the country.
See also: fiction

Fact is stranger than fiction,

 and Truth is stranger than fiction.
Prov. Things that really happen are harder to believe or more amazing than stories that people invent. Did you see the story in the newspaper about the criminal who attacks people with a toenail clipper? Fact is stranger than fiction! Jill: I can't believe someone's paying 900 dollars for Tom's broken-down old car—it doesn't even run. Jane: Truth is stranger than fiction.
See also: fact, fiction, stranger

truth is stranger than fiction

Real life can be more remarkable than invented tales, as in In our two-month trip around the world we ran into long-lost relatives on three separate occasions, proving that truth is stranger than fiction . This expression may have been invented by Byron, who used it in Don Juan (1833).
See also: fiction, stranger, truth

ˌtruth is stranger than ˈfiction

(saying) used to say that things that actually happen are often more surprising than stories that are invented
See also: fiction, stranger, truth
References in periodicals archive ?
Brigg draws the parameters of span fiction early in the book, asserting that "Science and its muscular sibling, technology, have transformed the world and the way human beings see it and behave in it:" As a consequence, both mainstream fiction and science fiction have seen their boundaries weakened; a number of mainstream fiction writers, Brigg says, "have now turned to explore strange horizons and find opportunities to express parts of their vision that realms new to them (but the stock-in-trade of the science fiction writer) will permit" (5).
He discusses the requisite authorial matters, including Johnson's upbringing and his parents, as well as his early work outside of writing fiction.
Chabon's talk could have served as a touchstone for a spirited discussion of Jewish identity, fictional representations of the Holocaust, the relationship between memory and invention, even the state of contemporary fiction.
Unfortunately, the preferred expedients of the teacher of novels, shorter fictions by canonical authors, are not readily available during the period.
Nor can it mean limiting the value of the fictions it studies, since a fiction's limited value marks it as past, no longer of the moment.
D thesis, Fiction and the ReadingPublic, supervised by I.
For in Not Quite Fiction Martin makes an all-important connection between the literary and political and shows that those writers who are interested primarily in language can be the most committed of all: "And perhaps most important, if a work of fiction helps readers to think about what self-acceptance is, to see that the self they need to accept is a fiction, an invention, isn't it helping them see themselves as creators, giving them the responsibility to tell stories--interesting stories--as a means of inventing themselves?
While Fausett makes an important contribution here in introducing and summarizing a series of little-known prose fictions, his attempt to place these works under the category of the "austral" (a theme that remains disappointingly elusive) is more problematic.
I organized my fictions around symbolic centers instead of plotting them out on graph paper; I assigned the exfoliation of these centersA to a voice and limited my use of narration, while treating the style and characteristic structure of the sentences that filled the novel, row on row, as microcosmic models for the organization of the whole.
Now we can see how Lewis can reconcile the two well-entrenched intuitions: although authors are causally responsible for the concrete tokens which constitute their fictions, they are not causally responsible for the truth of the propositions which those tokens express.
That which distinguishes fiction from non-fiction is the attitude that the author intends the audience to take on--with non-fictions, the author intends us to take on an attitude of belief with respect to the propositions in his text; with fiction, the author intends us to take on an attitude of make believe.
Fashion photography has been on the museum circuit for years, but the phenomenon moved center stage last month when the Museum of Modern Art premiered "Fashioning Fiction," its first take on the subject.
Coleman's Black Male Fiction and the Legacy of Caliban appears at a cardinal moment in what some have called the "third renaissance" of African-American literary art.
Schnitt's films inhabit the space between documentary and fiction.
His first claim to fame, of course, is being one of the most exciting and original science fiction writers of the second half of the twentieth century (and the first African American to explore this literary space), to which he has added deserved reputations as one of the most astute critics of SF and as a writer of a demanding form of fantasy that combines the subgenre of sword-and-sorcery with poststructuralist theory - what we might call a hybrid species of critical fiction.