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  A faction (i.e. ‘fact-fiction’; no connection with other meanings of the word) is a work of drama or literature treating facts in a fictional manner, or applying the techniques of documentary or other factual narrative to wholly fictional material. Shakespeare\'s history plays and Daniel Defoe\'s novels are faction of the first kind. Realist novels, such as Zola\'s Germinal or Theodore Dreiser\'s An American Tragedy, are faction of the second kind. The name ‘faction’ could equally be applied to some ostensibly documentary material, for example much autobiography and emotively-coloured sociological writing, such as Mayhew\'s London Labour and the London Poor or George Orwell\'s Down and Out in London and Paris.

Today the commonest use of the word is in film and television, where ‘faction’ is a recognized form, making drama of recent events. Its authors often weave into their fictional narratives transcripts of real speeches and conversations and news film of the people and events involved. Trials, scandals, political machinations and wars are favourite subjects. Faction of this kind is increasingly the main way in which many people get to know about history or current affairs. Some social commentators claim that a reverse effect is now noticeable. Conditioned by such powerful factions as Apocalypse Now, Silkwood, All the President\'s Men in the cinema, or Cathy Come Home, Tumbledown and innumerable films about historical figures such as Churchill on television, many viewers (and reporters) are tending to treat real news events as if they have been edited and presented, even created especially, for home consumption, as if real life itself is some kind of imaginative construct. KMcL



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