History Made, History Imagined Contemporary Literature, Poiesis, and the Past
- List Price: $26.00
- Binding: Paperback
- Publisher: Univ of Illinois Pr
- Publish date: 07/01/1999
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 reexamining 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 polyvocality 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 countermemory 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.