“It is quite a mistake to imagine that the author or the artist should stuff his beautiful, empty mind with knowledge, with impressions, with facts of any kind,” said Amarinth. “I have written a great novel upon Iceland, full of colour, of passion, of the most subtle impurity, yet I could not point you out Iceland on the map. I do not know where it is, or what it is. I only kow that it has a beautiful name…” (The Green Carnation, Robert Hitchens)
This reminds me of many writers, not least Fernando Aloisi, of whom Lucien Ropes once wrote: ‘Cherrily [sic] does he provide long descriptive passages of cities to which he has never been, of which he has not researched beyond a line or two picked up, one may suppose, from the internet (or a children’s encyclopaedia). He talks of science, corresponding to no real logic; of philosophy, with a similar disdain for sense. He is as committed to fine research as any child surfing the internet for the answers to history homework’
More on Aloisi here.