History Made, History Imagined

History Made, History Imagined : Contemporary Literature, Poiesis and the Past

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In this provocative and original study, David Price investigates history as a form of poiesis - the act of making in language - and suggests that certain novels can provide the best means of engaging in historical interpretation. Contending that the fundamental act of narration itself, including the narration of history, expresses a system of values, Price explores the work of seven contemporary novelists who share a commitment to re-examining history as idea and a refusal to accept history as given. Within a theoretical framework based on Friedrich Nietzsche and Giambattista Vico, Price investigates how these writers - Carlos Fuentes, Susan Daitch, Salman Rushdie, Michel Tournier, Ishmael Reed, Graham Swift, and Mario Vargas Llosa - create a discursive space between history and literature, a space within which history can be questioned and the making of history explored. Through their novels, these writers replace the univocal expression of history as a description of "what really happened" with a poly-vocality of competing discourses, languages, and points of view. Price's investigation of three modalities of the poietic novel - the history of forgotten possibilities, the construction of counter memory and cultural critique, and history as myth - has far-reaching implications for how we read and question the narratives we understand as history. By treating the past as a dynamic flow of values, rather than a fixed collection of facts, "History Made, History Imagined" fosters a deeper understanding not only of literature and philosophy but also of history and our relationship to it.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 352 pages
  • 165.1 x 230 x 31.75mm | 700g
  • University of Illinois Press
  • Baltimore, United States
  • English
  • 0252024680
  • 9780252024689

Review quote

"A demonstration of how the novel, as a form of 'speculative thinking,' provides a place where history can be questioned and understood, Price's study is a must for graduate and advanced scholars interested in these writers and in the larger questions about the contemporary historical novel and the relationship between history and fiction." -- Choice "A theoretically sophisticated and highly cogent discussion of fictive meditations on history... Every chapter here is rewarding... History Made, History Imagined is solid, meticulous, wide-ranging, and wonderfully persuasive." -- David Cowart, American Literature ADVANCE PRAISE "Price offers remarkably learned, inventive, and original meditations on the complex relations of history-or 'truth'-and fiction. His wide-ranging discussion demonstrates a vivid grasp of historiography and an original sense of the philosophical aspects of his subject."-Jay Parini, author of Benjamin's Crossing "David Price's book makes me want to read all the novels that I haven't. I can't think of a higher tribute."-Kathryn Hume, author of Calvino's Fictions: Cogito and Cosmosshow more