The Fiction of History sets out a number of themes in the relationship between history and fiction, emphasising the tensions and dilemmas created in this relationship and examining how various writers have dealt with these. In the first part, two chapters discuss the philosophy behind the connection between fiction and history, whether history is fiction, and the distinction between the past and history. Part two goes on to discuss the relationship between history and literature using case studies such as Virginia Woolf and Charles Dickens. Part three looks at television and film (as well as other media) through case studies such as the film Welcome to Sarajevo and Soviet and Australian films. Part four considers a particular theme that has prominence in both history and literature, postcolonial studies, focusing on the issues of fictions of nationhood and civilization and the historical novel in postcolonial contexts. Finally, the fifth section comprises two interviews with novelists Penelope Lively and Adam Thorpe and discusses the ways in which their works explore the nature of history itself.
This study is concerned with how readers are positioned to interpret the past in historical fiction for children and young adults. Looking at literature published within the last thirty to forty years, Wilson identifies and explores a prevalent trend for re-visioning and rewriting the past according to modern social and political ideological assumptions. Fiction within this genre, while concerned with the past at the level of content, is additionally concerned with present views of that historical past because of the future to which it is moving. Specific areas of discussion include the identification of a new sub-genre: Living history fiction, stories of Joan of Arc, historical fiction featuring agentic females, the very popular Scholastic Press historical journal series, fictions of war, and historical fiction featuring multicultural discourses. Wilson observes specific traits in historical fiction written for children — most notably how the notion of positive progress into the future is nuanced differently in this literature in which the concept of progress from the past is inextricably linked to the protagonist’s potential for agency and the realization of subjectivity. The genre consistently manifests a concern with identity construction that in turn informs and influences how a metanarrative of positive progress is played out. This book engages in a discussion of the functionality of the past within the genre and offers an interpretative frame for the sifting out of the present from the past in historical fiction for young readers.
Jarring Witnesses begins by surveying the problem of point of view as a formal, cognitive and cultural determinant in narrative historiography, particularly in the way certain dominant forms of 'legitimate' history have necessitated the suppresson of the voices of 'jarring witnesses'. The theory is explored in relation to Pierre Bourdieu's theories of doxa and heterodoxy, Bakhtin's concept of heteroglossia, and postmodernism. With this theoretical framework established, a number of modern novels concerned with history are then explored. Chapters devoted to Conrad's Nostromo, Ford's Parade's End, and Faulkner's Absolom, Absolom! examine the ultimate orthodox historiographical points of view in these novels, while a chapter on the fiction of African-American women engages the problem of historiography from the margins of the dominant culture. In the final chapter, Pynchon's V is the focus of a discussion of postmodernism and historical discourse. This is an original, interdisciplinary work which engages issues of contemporaray academic debate and illustrates its arguments with examples from well-known texts. The book is relevant to current debates in the problems of narrative representation both in fiction and the writing of history, while addressing questions being raised in literary studies concerning the representation of cultural difference and the varieties of social and discursive power.
This study approaches the fiction of the 1930s through critical debates about genre, language and history, setting these in their original context, and discussing the generic forms most favoured by novelists at the time. Chris Hopkins uses a series of case studies of texts to draw on, develop or explore the boundaries, contemporary usefulness and complexities of particular prose genres. Generic debates and the political-aesthetic effects of different kinds of representation were live issues as discursive struggles and negotiations took place between modernist and realist modes, between high, middle and lowbrow categorisations of culture, between literature and mass culture, and between different conceptions of the role of the writer, politics and nationality, sexuality and gender identities. Chris Hopkins draws both on well-known texts and on novels which have only recently begun to be discussed by critics of the thirties - particularly those by women writers whose work has still not been related very clearly to the literary and political debates of the period. Organised in five sections each focusing on major genres, he takes a wide range of novels as case studies and discusses their uses of generic forms, relating them to other examples and to their historical, political and cultural contexts.
Cowart presents a study of international historical fiction since World War II, with reflections on the affinities between historical and fictional narrative, analysis of the basic modes of historical fiction, and readings of a number of historical novels, including John Barth’s The Sot-Weed Factor, Marguerite Yourcenar’s Memoirs of Hadrian, Russell Hoban’s Riddley Walker, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, Giuseppe Tomasi Di Lampedusa’s The Leopard, D. M. Thomas’s The White Hotel, William Faulkner’s Go Down, Moses, and Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose. He proposes recognizing four modes of the historical novel: the past as a "distant mirror" of the present, fictions whose authors seek to pinpoint the precise historical moment when the modern age or some prominent feature of it came into existence, fictions whose authors aspire purely or largely to historical verisimilitude, and fictions whose authors reverse history to contemplate utopia and dystopia in the future. Thus, historical fiction can be organized under the rubrics: The Distant Mirror; The Turning Point; The Way It Was; and The Way It Will Be. This fourfold schema and his focus on postwar novels set Cowart’s work apart from previous studies, which have not devoted adequate space to the contemporary historical novel. Cowart argues that postwar historical fiction merits more extensive treatment because it is the product of an age unique in the annals of history—an age in which history itself may end.
Written especially for students and assuming no prior knowledge of the subject, David Trotter's "The English Novel in History 1895-1920" provides a comprehensive introduction to early 20th-century fiction This study embraces the whole range of early 20th-century fiction, from avant-garde innovations to popular mass-market genres. Separate sections are devoted to James, Conrad, Kipling, Bennett, Lawrence, Lewis, and Joyce. It establishes a classification of literary styles in the period. Based on this classification, it offers an account of the subject-matters which preoccupied writers of all kinds: gender, race, nationality, sexual psychology, production and consumption. "The English Novel in History" aims to redefine our understanding of literary Modernism, and should be useful reading for all students of modern English literature.
This is a postmodernist history of the historical novel with special attention to the political implications of the postmodernist attitude toward the past. Beginning with the poetics of Sir Walter Scott, Wesseling moves via a global survey of 19th century historical fiction to modernist innovations in the genre. Noting how the self-reflexive strategy enables a novelist to represent an episode from the past alongside the process of gathering and formulating historical knowledge, the author discusses the elaboration of this strategy, introduced by novelists such as Virginia Woolf and William Faulkner, in the work of, among others, Julian Barnes, Jay Cantor, Robert Coover and Graham Swift.Wesseling also shows how postmodernist writers attempt to envisage alternative sequences for historical events. Deliberately distorting historical facts, authors of such uchronian fiction, like Thomas Pynchon, Ishmael R. Read, Salman Rushdie and Gunter Grass, imagine what history looks like from the perspective of the losers, rather than the winners.
Explains the Hindi novel’s role in anticipating and creating the story of middle-class modernity and modernization in North India. Vasudha Dalmia offers a panoramic view of the intellectual and cultural life of North India over a century, from the aftermath of the 1857 uprising to the end of the Nehruvian era. The North’s historical cities, rooted in an Indo-Persianate culture, began changing more slowly than the Presidency towns founded by the British. Dalmia takes up eight canonical Hindi novels set in six of these cities—Agra, Allahabad, Banaras, Delhi, Lahore, and Lucknow—to trace a literary history of domestic and political cataclysms. Her exploration of the emerging Hindu middle classes, changing personal and professional ambitions, and new notions of married life provides a vivid sense of urban modernity. She argues that the radical social transformations associated with post-1857 urban restructuring, and the political flux resulting from social reform, Gandhian nationalism, communalism, Partition, and the Cold War shaped the realm of the intimate as much as the public sphere. Love and friendship, notions of privacy, attitudes to women’s work, and relationships within households are among the book’s major themes.
Myth and Mythologizing in Postmodern Canadian Historical Fiction
Author: Marc Colavincenzo
Category: Literary Criticism
This study brings together three major areas of interest - history, postmodern fiction, and myth. Whereas neither history and postmodern fiction nor history and myth are strangers to one another, postmodernism and myth are odd bedfellows. For many critics, postmodern thought with its resistance to metanarratives stands in direct and deliberate contrast to myth with its apparent tendency to explain the world by means of neat, complete narratives. There is a strain of postmodern Canadian historical fiction in which myth actually forms a complement not only to postmodernism's suspicion of master-narratives but also to its privileging of those marginal and at times ignored areas of history. The fourteen works of Canadian fiction considered demonstrate a doubled impulse which at first glance seems contradictory. On the one hand, they go about demythologizing - in the Barthesian sense - various elements of historical discourse, exposing its authority as not simply a natural given but as a construct. This includes the fact that the view of history portrayed in the fiction has been either underrepresented or suppressed by official historiography. On the other hand, the history is then re-mythologized, in that it becomes part of a pre-existing myth, its mythic elements are foregrounded, myth and magic are woven into the narrative, or it is portrayed as extraordinary in some way. The result is an empowering of these histories for the future; they are made larger than life and unforgettable.
This study examines the fictional strategies devised by John McGahern in order to give literary form to the experience of living in a changing society. He transcends the materiality of history by transforming it through myth and ritual, the myth of an ideal, lost world of social harmony, in which a classical unity of representation and expression was possible. These strategies are most closely observed in relation to his writing on the most powerful institutions in traditional Ireland: the Catholic church and the family.
This book explores the increasing interest in the Ottoman past in contemporary Greek society and its cultural sphere. It considers how the changing geo-political balances in South-East Europe since 1989 have offered Greek society an occasion to re-examine the transition from cultural diversity in the imperial context, to efforts to homogenize culture in the subsequent national contexts. This study shows how contemporary immigration and better relations with Turkey led to new directions in historiography, fiction and popular culture in the beginning of the twenty-first century. It focuses on how narratives about cultural co-existence under Ottoman rule are used as a prism of national self-awareness and argues that the interpretations of Greece’s Ottoman legacy are part of the cultural battles over national identity and belonging. The book examines these narratives within the context of tension between East and West and, not least, Greece’s place in Europe.
A Brief History of American Literature offers students and general readers a concise and up-to-date history of the full range of American writing from its origins until the present day. Represents the only up-to-date concise history of American literature Covers fiction, poetry, drama and non-fiction, as well as looking at other forms of literature including folktales, spirituals, the detective story, the thriller and science fiction Considers how our understanding of American literature has changed over the past twenty years Offers students an abridged version of History of American Literature, a book widely considered the standard survey text Provides an invaluable introduction to the subject for students of American literature, American studies and all those interested in the literature and culture of the United States
This book considers the English Civil Wars and the civil wars in Scotland and Ireland through the lens of historical fiction—primarily fiction for the young. The text argues that the English Civil War lies at the heart of English and Irish political identities and considers how these identities have been shaped over the past three centuries in part by the children’s literature that has influenced the popular memory of the English Civil War. Examining nearly two hundred works of historical fiction, Farah Mendlesohn reveals the delicate interplay between fiction and history.
An anthology of essays from the second year of the English Historical Fiction Authors blog, this book transports the reader across the centuries from prehistoric to twentieth century Britain. Nearly fifty different authors share the stories, incidents, and insights discovered while doing research for their own historical novels. From medieval law and literature to Tudor queens and courtiers, from Stuart royals and rebels to Regency soldiers and social calls, experience the panorama of Britain's yesteryear. Explore the history behind the fiction, and discover the true tales surrounding Britain's castles, customs, and kings.
Representation in Select Novels of Umberto Eco and Orhan Pamuk
Author: Nishevita J. Murthy
Publisher: Cambridge Scholars Publishing
Category: Literary Criticism
Historicizing Fiction/Fictionalizing History brings together two authors, Umberto Eco and Orhan Pamuk, not frequently studied in comparison. By focusing on their non/fictional works to present a unique study of the methods and concepts of representation, Murthy uses contemporary historical novels to examine fictional depictions of reality, and provides a fresh perspective on representation studies in literature. Written in an accessible style, and tapping into fields as varied as literary and critical theory, the historical novel, postmodernism, and historiography, Historicizing Fiction/Fictionalizing History considers the ways in which reality, as discourse, confronts a text-external reality, and how this confrontation affects the autonomy of the fictional space – topics that remain persistently problematic areas within literary studies. Eco’s The Name of the Rose and Baudolino, and Pamuk’s My Name is Red and Snow, with their topical concerns and methods of representation, promise a rewarding comparative study. This book provides an early critical framework for these four works, placing them within the rubric of the postmodernist historical novel, as creative works that also comment on the process of literary writing through their recreation of historical pasts. In this respect, Historicizing Fiction/Fictionalizing History promises to be an engaging read in literary criticism and historiography, as well as a handy companion for Eco and Pamuk enthusiasts.