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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 ?
It is this paradox of fictionality that disnarration foregrounds-the fictional world is at once more knowable and less accessible than the real world.
49 These features, the relation to book form, the insistence on fictionality, the telling of a story, obviously add up to the novel.
For, with all their "solution" to the Sutpen mystery, its--and their regained subjectivity's--inevitable fictionality constantly comes back to frustrate them.
Almost immediately after her death, Brossard's text moves out of the realm of the fictive altogether and into "Un seul corps pour comparer" whose ontology throws off conventions of fictionality to mimic a less mediated actuality.
This stance generates a literary paradox, in which the characters' reality is predicated upon asserting the fictionality of Austen's text.
The same might be said about the statements of politicians: their fictionality is of a totally different genre again.
The contrived fictionality of this story gives it a special place in High Lonesome,, its principal concern is with fiction-making and the material circumstances from which narrative is derived.
May writes: 'The short story as a genre has always been more apt to lay bare its fictionality than the novel, which has traditionally tried to cover it up.
A poststructural reading would perhaps comment that, ironically, the fictionality of the text already presupposes disguising the thoughts of the "other" as one's own, whether from the position of author or reader.
Yet in spite of Patrick Hemingway's claim that the heart of this memoir resides in the "ambiguous counterpoint between fiction and truth," the fictionality of this text can easily be overstated (9).
Noting "the uneven ways characters fit their designated class, gender, and regional identities" in Jacobs' Incidents, Rowe refers to this fact as "ideological disparities in the behavior of individuals" (139), and as an "ideological 'unevenness'" (140) that must be explained as a narrative strategy of the author "to expose the fictionality of the boundaries drawn" between white and black, master and servant, friend and enemy, and so on.
It is instructive, too, that immediately following this movement we are shown Sweetland, at an upstairs window, gazing out; in this way, the fictionality of signifiers is extended to the act of viewing and film-viewing, too, though such hints must be ignored in order to comprehend the story.
1) Auden compounds this adversarial role, however, by using fictional devices in a way that undermines the fictionality.
Part 2, consisting of an additional three chapters, treats the limits of fictionality relative to the practice of knowledge-seeking, with the intent of showing that certain distinctions like fiction vs.
Nor was Barth hardly the only player fascinated by fictions that mirrored fictionality.