Jonathon Delacour, at the heart of things, has a brilliant post about a genre of Japanese novel called shishōsetsu, the “I novel,” which uses “the techniques of essay, diary, confession, and other non-fictional forms to present the fiction of a faithfully recorded experience” and is apparently a basic component of the Japanese understanding of what a novel should be. After an analysis of the phenomenon itself, he ties it in to the truth in blogging issue that has been roiling a section of the community. Read it and think.


  1. Not to blow my own horn exactly, but on that note you might find this interesting:

  2. The thing that amuses me so much about the truth in blogging issue (well, other than that it’s old news on the internet, and basically reiterates the old fiction in diaries complaint that so many have been busted on in the past 8 or so years), is how well it applies to the Conversational Maxims. When you break those without pragmatic cause (indirect requests, for example, being permissible), people get violently upset. In the case of fake blogs, like Kaycee’s from a while back, it’s the same. Yet, roman à clef and the descendant that is the Japanese “I”-novel, do not. Different “maxims” regarding the form?
    As a linguist, what do you think about extending the conversational maxim model like that? I’m curious.

  3. Ha! Well worth mentioning, Matt; for those who would like to read a (very funny) comparison of blogging to a different Japanese literary genre, zuihitsu, but are too lazy to copy and paste, here‘s the link.
    Kristina, I’m not sure what you mean by the Conversational Maxims. Can you provide further description, or a link?

  4. It’s pretty much, as I understand it, your basic sociolinguistics (I got it in two separate classes): lists them, but for more detail I’d probably have to go back to my textbooks. Search on “maxims” and “Grice” and I’m sure you’ll find some class notes with more examples.
    Personally, I adore them: they can explain so much!
    Zuihitsu is not a bad analogy, for all that analogizing is your friend and your enemy. On a more well-known parallel, maybe a commonplace book?

  5. Ah, thank you. Again, here’s the link for the lazy. The ones most relevant to my concerns in the blogging debate are the Maxims of Quality:
    1. Do not say what you believe to be false.
    2. Do not say that for which you lack adequate evidence.
    Works for me. (Assuming, of course, you’re writing in a mode to which these maxims would apply — not overtly fictional, in other words.)

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