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Storytelling is a socially acceptable form of lying in which the author (liar) and the reader collude in order to create a safe place for the story (or lie) to flourish. The reader, although aware of the tale’s fiction, willingly participates in its propagation, often retelling it to other willing marks. According to Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, this retelling is inevitable:

For once the disease of reading has laid upon the system, it weakens it so that it falls an easy prey to that other scourge which dwells in the inkpot and festers in the quill. The wretch takes to writing.

Although, in truth, stories are lies, they are also – through the fact of the conspiracy which exists between authors and readers – important cultural artefacts that reveal a deeper truth about the nature of culture and how it is constructed.

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