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Related: mimesis - suspension of disbelief - truth - realism - reality - fiction - authenticity
In the arts: realism in film - realism in literature - realism in the visual arts
Verisimilitude, in literature and film, is how fully the characters and actions in a work conform to our sense of reality. To say that a work has a high degree of verisimilitude means that the work is very realistic and believable – that it is "true to life".
This is the illusion and authenticity in a work of literature.
Also the willingness to suspend one's disbelief (even if the events or fictitious representations might otherwise be considered preposterous) when the intensity of the story or interest in the characters overrides the need to believe that things are scientifically correct.
This device helps the writer present the work as true which was particularly important in a time when the Church taught that reading fiction was sinful. Authors use actual people, places, and things toward this end, but also realistic character and setting detail and realistic dialogue. Note how Chaucer, in The Canterbury Tales, uses London and Canterbury, a pilgrimage that actually took place yearly, a real inn in a real place, authentic description of clothing and occupations and realistic dialogue. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Verisimilitude [Jan 2006]
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