Fiction might be ‘all made up’, but a great novel illuminates reality like nothing else. How? For Milan Kundera, literature is essential to humanity’s body of knowledge precisely because it does not represent scientific thinking. Fiction’s power is in its resistance to reductionist thought and its willingness to engage with life’s complexity. Novelists weave and layer a multitude of observations about the lived human condition. The truer and more attentive these observations, the more complex the fiction, and the less certain its conclusions. Indeed, according to Kundera, the novel’s wisdom is “the wisdom of uncertainty”.
This doesn’t sound like much to lean on. Yet it turns out that in times of trouble being able to access the wisdom of uncertainty is an invaluable resource.