What the Dickens! So you’re a big literary liar. Well, it’s no ...

World

What the Dickens! So you’re a big literary liar. Well, it’s no big deal

If, like me, you've never picked up a Jilly Cooper or waded through Balzac, here’s why you shouldn’t fret too much

Laura Freeman

Go on. Confess. What’s your dirty little literary secret? Proust, Joyce, Dickens, Flaubert? Which big bad beast of a book have you talked about at a dinner party without having read so much as the inside jacket flap?

According to a new survey, among the most fibbed about works of fiction are Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace, Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird and George Orwell’s 1984. Almost 40% of literary liars said they had dissembled on Dostoyevsky and told whoppers about Woolf simply to join in a conversation, while 30% admitted it was to seem more intelligent. Just under 20% drew on memories of television or film adaptations, and a desperate 5% had feigned a coughing fit or changed the subject.

When pressed, some said they had fallen back on the excuse: “But I read it ages ago. All a bit of a blur now.”..

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