The paper focuses on the concept of lies and lying as an auto therapeutic act, as represented in Kristian Novak’s novel Črna mati zemla. Novak illustrates the complexity of the philosophical and literary concept of truth (and lie) by means of a heterogeneous narrative structure. The novel consist of five non-chronologically arranged chapters which deal with different versions of truth, or rather, which point to the fact that the truth about the protagonist’s life changes depending on who perceives and interprets it, and when. The elaborate relationship between the truth and lie is additionally complicated by the author’s play with different genres or forms of narrative, which includes the representation of scientific research, fictional representation of the protagonist’s adult life and an autobiographical story of the protagonist’s childhood. Lying is simultaneously represented as a creative and a destructive act because inventing stories is the very basis of literary creativity (both Novak and his literary protagonist are writers, which establishes a metatextual relationship between the novel as a fictional creation and the reality) and it helps the protagonist cope with the trauma of his father’s death. However, at the same time, lying and believing in imaginary people and situations serve to psychologically destabilize the protagonist, both as a boy and as an adult.
From an angle of critical sociolinguistic analysis, a methodology of narrative networks is applied in order to argue for a relative interpretation of the narrative in a piece of detective fiction, The Comforts of Saturdays by Alexander McCall Smith. Some of the central narrative themes of the novel, lie and deception, forgiveness and penance, are interpreted within the theoretical and methodological framework which postulates that a text cannot be understood in isolation, in a social vacuum. The concept of narrative network, in which the text itself is but a single “knot” while the rest of the network is made up of a wide range of socio-historical factors, accompanying texts (interviews with the author, publisher advertisements, etc.), attitudes and interpretations of different types of reading audiences as well as the act of reading itself, allows us to better understand the relative and variable meanings of the plot and the moral directive force it proposes, opening up new spaces for a more complex, multi-layered understanding of the narrative fabric in its entirety.
First, the paper tries to establish a meaning of the concept of falsehood and the deriving notions. There are references to understanding of falsehood in Christianity as the foundation of the European civilization i.e. of the modern and contemporary philosophy. And while Christianity makes a clear cut distinction between falsehood and truthfulness, philosophy renders this distinction relative and meaningless (Schopenhauer). Further on, the paper portrays a relationship between Manuel Komnenos and Stefan Nemanja as given in the texts of Constantine Manasses and Eustace of Salonika. Both of them celebrate Manuel up to a point where they compare him with God. On the other hand, Nemanja is attributed epithets related to Satan. Contrary to that, when writing his father’s biography, Stefan the First Crowned portrays the Emperor Manuel in good light. The consequences of the Emperor’s conquests soon disappear when the Empire ceases to exist, while the Grand Prince’s feats – the territorial expansion, winning independence and founding Hilandar remain. In the end, Nemanja becomes a saint, while Manuel does not. The final conclusion is that a falsehood uttered by the powerful and dominant does not last forever.