Facts are the images of history, just as images are the facts of fiction.

What did E. L. Doctorow mean by:

Facts are the images of history, just as images are the facts of fiction.


This quote is an exploration of the relationship between facts, history, images, and fiction. It suggests that facts are to history what images are to fiction. In other words, just as facts shape and define history, images form the backbone of fiction. They are the tangible elements that give substance to the intangible.

When we delve into history, we are dealing with facts – events, dates, figures, etc. These facts, like images, provide a clear and vivid picture of what happened in the past. They are the concrete evidence of history, the undeniable proof of its existence.

On the other hand, fiction is a realm of imagination, where images play a crucial role. Just as facts are the “images” that help us visualize history, images in fiction are the “facts” that ground us in an imaginary world. They provide the details that make the story believable and relatable, despite its fictional nature.

Applying this idea to the modern world, we can see how facts and images shape our understanding of reality and imagination. In the era of “fake news” and misinformation, the importance of facts as the ‘images’ of history is more crucial than ever. They help us discern truth from falsehood, and provide a clear picture of reality.

In terms of personal development, this quote can be interpreted as a call to value facts and imagination equally. Just as we need facts to understand and learn from history, we need imagination to dream and create. By appreciating the role of facts in shaping our understanding of the past and the role of images in fueling our imagination, we can strive for a balance between realism and creativity in our lives.

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