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Making History New: Modernism and Historical Narrative (Hardback)
  • Making History New: Modernism and Historical Narrative (Hardback)
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Making History New: Modernism and Historical Narrative (Hardback)

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£40.49
Hardback 296 Pages / Published: 08/01/2015
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Making History New explores how several British modernists applied the experimental methods of literary modernism to the writing of narrative history and historical novels. The historical novel is usually assumed to be only a concern of either nineteenth century realism or postmodernism, but the historical works of Joseph Conrad, Ford Madox Ford and Rebecca West evidence a modernist obsession with historical narrative. Works like Nostromo, Parade's End and Black Lamb and Grey Falcon utilized literary techniques we have come to associate with modernism-fragmentation, subjectivity, nonlinearity-in their effort to narrate the past, but unlike many of their contemporaries they never jettisoned narrative as the primary means for textual engagements with the historical past. Such a divisioning between narrative and non-narrative modes of writing history also mark the field of historiography in the wake of the Holocaust, with poststructural challenges to narrative history compelling many historians to deprioritize the role of narrative. By contrast, many historians have experimented in "creative history," works of history that acknowledge the possible limitations of narrative but that attempt to ingest such problems into the very form of historical recreation. The modernist historians can provide models for such an enterprise, as they were aware of the pitfalls of narrative, but were also driven by an ethical imperative to relate the past in the forms of stories, and so employed modernist techniques to both signal the past but also stage the difficulties of the recreation of history in language.

Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
ISBN: 9780199364237
Number of pages: 296
Weight: 522 g
Dimensions: 241 x 163 x 25 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
Making History New is entirely successful in challenging the claim that modernism is anti-historical ... [and] opens up an original - and potentially significant - field of research in modernist studies. * Kate Symondson, Times Literary Supplement *
Making History New challenges the claim that literary modernism abandoned history. With close attention to historical narratives by Joseph Conrad, Ford Madox Ford, and Rebecca West, Seamus O'Malley rediscovers the historiographical significance of modernist experimentation. Reading the three authors as an exemplary constellation of modernists, Making History New illuminates a deeply historical turn at the heart of high modernism and invites a re-evaluation of the field of modernist studies. O'Malley simultaneously brings historiography to bear on literary modernism and makes modernist narrative newly relevant to debates about how history is made, written, and read. * Christopher GoGwilt, author of The Passage of Literature: Genealogies of Modernism in Conrad, Rhys, and Pramoedya *
Seamus O'Malley's discovery of a modernist historiography complicates and clarifies the relationship between modernism and history; leads to convincing new readings of well-known and more obscure works of fiction; and suggests ways in which historians today can learn from modernist innovations to create new historical forms. Making History New is a refreshingly innovative reassessment of literary modernism. * Louise Blakeney Williams, author of Modernism and the Ideology of History: Literature, Politics, and the Past *
Making History New is a compelling and erudite contribution to modernist studies that advances our knowledge of the field and the three canonical authors * Conrad, Ford, West *
Making History New offers a bold and original challenge to the received idea of modernism as anti-historical. O'Malley makes a powerful case for an engagement with the experience and representation of history as being constitutive of modernism, from the early modernist historiographic fictions of Conrad and Ford, through the novels of the First World War, to West's reflections on the Holocaust and the Nuremberg Trials. His subtle readings illuminate the richness of modernism's meditations on the nature and the problematics of the historical. * Max Saunders, author of Self Impression: Life-Writing, Autobiografiction, and the Forms of Modern Literature *

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