By Kate Mitchell
A PDF model of this booklet is offered at no cost in open entry through the OAPEN Library platform, www.oapen.org. Arguing that neo-Victorian fiction enacts and celebrates cultural reminiscence, this e-book makes use of reminiscence discourse to place those novels as dynamic members within the modern old imaginary.
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Extra resources for History and Cultural Memory in Neo-Victorian Fiction: Victorian Afterimages
Elias, writing in the wake of postcolonial theory, opens up Hutcheon’s category to describe a variety of positions characteristic of what she calls metahistorical romance, ranging from ‘ironic, even nihilistic deconstruction’ to ‘a reconstructed secular-sacred belief’ (Elias, 2001: 143). More recently, Jerome De Groot argues that the historical novel ‘articulates within it a complex of ambiguous imperatives towards the past – an attempt at authenticity, at real(ist) representation, at memorialisation, at demonstrating the Memory Texts 27 otherness of history, working within the confines of the web of fact’ (De Groot, 2009: 218).
It retains the conventional sense of memory as subjective, fragmentary, slanted and personal. The foregrounding, in memory discourse, of the anecdotal, the subjective and the personal, may enable these novelists to move beyond exploring the history of representation, which Hutcheon attributes to historiographic metafiction, to ‘a concern’, as Del Ivan Janik writes, ‘with the ways in which past and present intersect and the ways in which those incidents of intersection can influence and illuminate human experience ( Janik, 1995: 176).
That is and can only be imaginary’ (White, 1987a: 24). 24 History and Cultural Memory in Neo-Victorian Fiction If language and narrative are the ‘other sources’ of history and fiction alike, and if history’s referent is not ‘out there’ waiting to be discovered and recorded, but is rather constructed, the notion that historical narratives have privileged access to the real is undermined. Indeed, no longer guaranteeing unproblematic access to the past, the historian’s narrative is at a double remove from the past ‘as it really happened’.