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BY 4.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter 2021

Versuch über die Halbwahrheit

From the book Postfaktisches Erzählen?

Nicola Gess


As Hannah Arendt wrote, ‘no one has ever doubted that truth and politics are on rather bad terms with each other’ and by now it is practically a commonplace that truth is a matter of discursive negotiation and cannot always be fully distinguished from fiction. Even so, controversies have recently arisen about remarks made by the likes of pro-Brexit British politicians, American President Donald Trump, and right-wing European populists. One of the media’s attempts to characterize this new feature of political discourse has been the concept of the ‘post-factual’. Yet among the tools of post-factual political discourse, it is not obvious false statements but half-truths that stand out most clearly. These can take various forms, such as statements whose facticity can be hard to pin down objectively; statements based partly on facts but also on fictive content; and statements in which real events are exaggerated, reinterpreted, or put in misleading contexts. In my chapter, I will take a closer look at (1) the characteristics of post factual discourse in general and (2) the function, construction, and ‘success’ of half-truths within this discourse in particular, proceeding from the assumption that they can be effectively analyzed with concepts from narratology and fiction theory.

© 2021 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston
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