Heard on Campus: Author Alexander McCall Smith on fiction with virtues

"If what we see on the screen or read has no implications, then why do we weep when we are exposed to an emotionally wrenching story? Are our tears not real? Could it not be argued that we create a moral climate through our fictional creations, and if that is the case, then would we not feel uneasy if suddenly our stories became ones in which the right and the good was consistently disregarded and defeated? I think more than unease, we would feel shared despair. The world is a distressing place. It harbors great sorrow and great suffering. There are many forces that obviously would dismantle such enlightenment as we’ve created for ourselves; there are many forces that would enslave, exploit and destroy. If we allowed ourselves to live in an imaginative universe in which such forces were vindicated, then surely our lives would be bleak that we’d be in a prison of ice, a place to which no light would be admitted."

-- Alexander McCall Smith, speaking Monday (April 11) in Schwab Auditorium during the 2011 Crawford Lecture of the Rock Ethics Institute, on the topic, "How Are We to Live Our Lives? An Evening with Alexander McCall Smith." Smith is emeritus professor of medical law at the University of Edinburgh and best-selling author of more than 60 books, most notably the  internationally acclaimed "The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency" series, which rapidly rose to the top of the bestseller lists throughout the world. The film adaptation of the first book in the series premiered on HBO in 2009.

Last Updated April 14, 2011