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A Voyage through History
Comparing Julian Barnes A History of the World in 10 ½ Chapters to Elisabeth Wesseling s descriptions of the postmodernist historical novel
A.M. Hoogenboom - 9628525 Doctoraal scriptie Engelse Taal en Cultuur 1e begeleider: dr. P.C.J.M. Franssen 2e begeleider: dr. R.G.J.L. Supheert Cijfer: 7
Table of Contents
2. The Historical Novel: From Scott to Postmodernism The Origination of the Historical Novel Imitation and Emulation The Passing of Scott s Popularity and other Changes in the Literary Field Changes in the Early Twentieth Century The Development of Alternatives From Modernism to Postmodernism Postmodernist Self-Reflexivity Historiography in the Making History in the Making
8 8 10 12 15 16 18 26 27 29 30 32 47
3. Self-reflexivity in A History of the World in 10 ½ Chapters
Historiography in the Making History in the Making
4. Counterfactual Fiction and Uchronian Fiction in A History of the World in 10 ½ Chapters Counterfactual Conjecture Uchronian Fiction
5. Reviewing the Results Uchronian Fiction or Self-reflexivity Parenthesis
70 70 74
Writing this thesis has been quite a journey for me. Looking back, I cannot remember exactly why I chose to write my thesis on A History of the World in 10 ½ Chapters. I do remember that I took a class on postmodernist literature, taught by Aleid Fokkema, and that during this course I was introduced to the novel. Practical thinking made me consider a book for my thesis which I had become familiar with during one of the courses I had attended, and for some reason I ended up picking this novel. I asked Aleid Fokkema to be my mentor and she agreed. I think I started off doing not exactly badly, I increasingly spent less and less time on my thesis because to personal problems. Finally, I had to stop break off working on my thesis. For a year I did not study at all. In September 2004, I made a fresh start. Aleid Fokkema agreed to be my mentor again and I resumed working on my thesis. All in all, the process of finishing my thesis has not been an easy one. I still struggled with personal issues and working on my thesis was often a real battle for me. Another bump in the road was that Aleid Fokkema had to break off her mentorship. She arranged a new mentor for me, Dr Paul Franssen. Unfortunately this transfer lead to some delay, but the mentorship of Dr Paul Franssen has worked out. Today I finish my thesis and this is very special to me. There have been times when I considered breaking off my studies completely, and times when I did not think I would ever be able to finish my thesis, but after hard work and many struggles, I have succeeded, and this is great! If not fantastic. I do not feel I have succeeded all on my own. Friends and family have been there for me during my difficult times when I had stopped studying, and during my new effort to write my thesis. I would like to take this opportunity to thank my mum and dad for patience and, not unimportant, financial support. I would like to thank my friends Marleen, Anne-Marie, Hester, Christine and Saskia for their patience and support and good advice. Besides this, I need to thank God for being there for me through it all.
One other thing I would like to mention, is that in the long process of working on this thesis, Barnes novel has remained interesting to me. The novel, as well as the critical framework I used for my thesis, have proved to be tough material for me to deal with. Still, for most of the time I could not help but like Barnes book, if only for the sense of humour that is displayed in it. Allow me the freedom to quote you two passages from the text. The first is from Parenthesis, the half chapter in the novel. This fragment is taken from a passage where an Indian tribe is described which thrived, so that the Indians had a lot of time on their hands. Barnes relates how stealing from one another became what they liked to do and what they celebrated (235). This is where a humorous passage comes in:
As they staggered out of their tepees and another faultless day came smooching in from the Pacific, they would sniff the honeyed air and ask one another what they d got up to the previous night. The answer would be a shy confession or smug boast of theft. Old Redface had his blanket pilfered again by
Little Grey Wolf. Well, did you ever? He s coming along, that Little Grey Wolf. And what did you get up to? Me? Oh, I just snitched the eyebrows from the top of the totem-pole. Oh, not that one again. Bo-ring.
Finally, a passage from chapter nine, Project Ararat . Spike Tiggler, back from the moon, talks to his wife and utters this beautiful line: I went 240,000 miles to see the moon was the earth that was really worth looking at (259). and it
This production of activity indicates that Barnes certainly has become an author of importance.5 Chapter 1 Introduction Ever since Julian Barnes published his first novel Metroland in 1980. Postmodern Genres. the arts. and a much-debated issue. the literary current that some critics have linked him to. Historiographic Metafiction .1 They have used Barnes work to illustrate their observations about postmodernist writing. E. Elisabeth Wesseling.: Postmodern novels like Flaubert s Parrot [ ] imply that . philosophy and theology. History. People have opinions about him. Barnes wrote Flaubert s Parrot. including fields such as architecture. Het Postmodernisme in de Literatuur (Amsterdam: Uitgeverij de Arbeiderspers. About postmodernism. What critics seem to have most reservations about. and was more frequently used in the 1950 s and 60 s and from then on. They describe a number of characteristics which 1 Theo D haen. The Pastime of Past Time : Fiction. of course. 1991). the reading public. his work has been received with much attention. e. Especially since Flaubert s Parrot was published in 1984. by reviewers as well as by literary critics and. Marjorie Perloff (Norman/London: University of Oklahoma Press. is to give an overall definition of postmodernism. ed. Contemporary critics agree that it has now become a label not just for a literary period. In this thesis I would like to examine one of Barnes novels. bookshop counters. A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters. In literature. 1988). A number of critics have incorporated comments on Barnes in their writing on postmodernism. his writing affects them.. critics have struggled with defining it. on page 121. Elisabeth Wesseling. every new publication of Barnes work has spurred increased activity at reviewers desks. but for a wider cultural phenomenon.g. it is still a current notion. in relation to postmodernism.g. Linda Hutcheon. 1988). the last word has not yet been spoken. for instance Theo D haen. . Ever since the term was first used in the 1930 s. Writing History as a Prophet: Postmodernist Innovations of the Historical Novel (Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company. or have labelled his work explicitly as postmodernist. on pages 126 and 128. Linda Hutcheon. even on the internet and in university classes.
transcendente. Van het Postmodernisme. J. in Het Postmodernisme in de Literatuur. but they do not claim: So. Elisabeth Wesseling has devoted her doctoral thesis to a critical study of the postmodernist attitude towards history: Writing History as a Hans Bertens. ed. elke ordening. Douwe Fokkema and Hans Bertens 1986. Hans Bertens. Linda Hutcheon writes about historiographic metafiction . (Original quote: "De ontkenning van elke metafysische. or on a lack of them.4 In A Poetics of Postmodernism. this is what postmodernism is all about. (De Kunstreeks). The postmodernist author rejects absolute truths. Sebastian Lopez. 24-25. and in practically all recent concepts of postmodernism the matter of ontological uncertainty is absolutely central." Approaching Postmodernism: Papers presented at a Workshop on Postmodernism. as well as every system of values. or plurality. 46. 21-23 September 1984. the notion of the ex-centric. which is to her characteristic of postmodernism. Boomgaard. As mentioned before. en ook elk systeem van waarden. Het Postmodernisme in de Literatuur. die zich als zodanig presenteert. Hij verwerpt elke ontologische verankering. of essentialistische orde lijkt mij het centrale gegeven van het postmodernisme. For example. most critics keep to giving a number of concepts that seem to characterise postmodernist works. and an emphasis on values and normative codes. De postmoderne schrijver wijst absolute waarheden af. 2 However. The forwarding of ontological issues is an activity that is noticed by all critics of Postmodernism. speaks of de talrijke historische romans die het postmodernisme telt (translated: postmodernism s many historical novels ).6 they think might be called postmodern. Some examples of these concepts are: ontological doubt. an interest in (views on) history. or essentialistic order seems to me to be the central given of postmodernism. The first two of the concepts mentioned will be explained somewhat further. 1988) 128. which presents itself as such. Hans Bertens labels it as its central notion. Het Postmodernisme in de Literatuur (Amsterdam: Synthese. Hans Bertens goes as far as saying that in most concepts. as was said. 1985). (Amsterdam: Sua. 3 Hans Bertens. University of Utrecht. every order. 3 Another phenomenon that has been marked by a number of critics is the postmodernist focus on history and on the perception of history. 2 .") 4 Hans Bertens. "The Postmodern Weltanschauung and its Relation with Modernism: An Introductory Survey. The denial of any metaphysical. He rejects any ontological embedding/anchoring. transcendental.
Secondly I will examine what examples can be found in Barnes novel of the characteristics of postmodernist historical fiction as they have been described by Wesseling. More concretely. I will make clear what Elisabeth Wesseling means with the term postmodernist historical fiction. and what that deviation might mean. 5 This doctoral thesis has been published as a book: Elisabeth Wesseling. she comes to a description of the characteristics of this subdivision of postmodernist fiction (Wesseling vii). First. In doing so. the results from chapters three and four will be reviewed. This will be done in chapters three and four. if and how the novel deviates from Wesseling s descriptions. the following steps will be taken. I would like to examine to what extent A History of the World in 10 ½ Chapters bears the characteristics of a postmodernist historical novel as they are described by Elisabeth Wesseling. and it will be assessed if and how Barnes novel agrees with Wesseling s descriptions of postmodernist historical fiction.7 Prophet: Postmodernist Innovations of the Historical Novel. and explores its relationship to the classical and modern historical novel. In short the question of this thesis is: does Julian Barnes A History of the World in 10 ½ Chapters fit Wesseling s description of the postmodernist historical novel? To answer this question. in chapter two. 1991). for instance in the novels Flaubert s Parrot (1984). . Staring at the Sun (1986) and A History of the World in 10 ½ Chapters. An interest in history can be found in Barnes work as well. In chapter five. Writing History as a Prophet: Postmodernist Innovations of the Historical Novel (Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company.5 She states: the predominance of historical subject matter in postmodernist fictions can be regarded as something of a revival for the historical novel (2). In this thesis. She distinguishes what she calls the postmodernist historical novel. I would like to take a closer look at A History of the World in 10 ½ Chapters. and also.
The origination of the historical novel may be situated toward the end of the . A number of these features will be employed in analysing a historical novel from 1989. Wesseling does not present a clear-cut definition of the postmodernist historical novel. and how the genre has changed in the course of time. Certain new features that had been deviations from the usual generic repertoire at first became more commonplace. She outlines the genre of historical fiction as it has developed from around 1800 to the end of the 1980's. Julian Barnes s A History of the World in 10 ½ Chapters. through postmodernist innovations. with the aim of establishing to which extent the novel fits Wesseling s descriptions of the postmodernist historical novel. The Origination of the Historical Novel According to Wesseling. This summary is to make clear what the characteristics of the historical novel were in the past. The descriptions of postmodernist fiction that this chapter ends with will be used in the following chapters to examine Barnes novel. and ends up with a number of features which in her view characterise the postmodernist embodiment of the historical novel. In order to make clear what postmodernist historical fiction imports. This chapter of my thesis presents a summary of Wesseling s outline of the historical novel. the genre of historical fiction entered a new phase in the late twentieth century. from its origins to its postmodernist embodiment. even characteristic of the genre. it is therefore useful to explore what the genre of historical fiction looked like before these changes took place. Some information from Wesseling s survey has not been included as I did not regard it relevant to my thesis.8 Chapter 2 The Historical Novel: From Scott to Postmodernism The aim of this chapter is to expound what Elisabeth Wesseling means exactly with the term postmodernist historical fiction.
[T]hey held that the use of invention in the service of vivification. 6 7 The appetizer meaning the historical novel. Scott argued that if readers would content themselves with mere appetizers. Further on in her book. the major breakthrough of the historical novel. which probably was tougher material to dig into.9 eighteenth century. and its definite establishment as a genre came with Sir Walter Scott and his Waverley. The fictional element of the historical novel was not something its proponents tried to cover up. commonly referred to as the Waverley Novels. is the position the genre took up with regard to historiography. and of the early nineteenth-century historical novel in general. However.6 a modicum of knowledge would still be conveyed (45).7 It is useful to note that apart from minor alterations of historical data. or 'Tis Sixty Years Since (1814) and the historical novels he wrote after that. Wesseling mentions that historical novelists defended the use of invention in their works on didactic grounds: the historical novel could be a bridge between the reading public and historiography. I am presenting a quote from Wesseling on Scott. Besides openness about its own fictionality. namely the daily lives of ordinary people (Wesseling 33). another feature distinguished the historical novel from historiography: the historical novel represented aspects of the past that had as yet not been dealt with as extensively by historians. Scott and his successors preferred domestic history to political history for writing material. The historical novel presented itself as a vehicle for conveying historical knowledge (Wesseling 33). . One characteristic of the Waverley Novels. According to Wesseling. embellishment. There were differences between the historical novel and historiography as well. Scott did not approve of gross violations of canonised history. According to Wesseling. the historical novel took up a complementary position towards historiography. this is not a literal statement from Scott. when novelists started writing novels that simulated historicity in an attempt to uplift the prestige of their field of writing. and the fleshing out of details where historiography only offered rough outlines was a highly desirable compensation for the shortcomings of a stylistically unattractive historiography (Wesseling 32).
combined with the learned expositions of the external. As for historical subject matter novelists explored materials. employed in reflecting their perceptions to the reader. p. taken all together. As for thematics. they embedded characters in a closely detailed network of material living circumstances by way of extensive descriptions of the costumes. 50. Some of those who judged the Waverley Novels negatively in this respect ascribed this to the shallowness of his heroes (Wesseling 47). Scott admitted to being committed to historical rather than moral edification. omniscient narrator on the living circumstances of former epochs. Imitation and Emulation8 In the wake of the Waverley Novels. . which. Furthermore. 8 The title for this section is taken from Wesseling's own section on this subject matter. some of Scott s motifs became standard topoi. cover the whole range of Western history from classical antiquity up to the near present (Wesseling 50). make up an important part of the external realism or couleur locale which counts as the hallmark of the historical novel (49). Concerning ideology. Wesseling states with respect to Scott's characters: Their perceptual activities. architecture. see Wesseling. and others were added. She adds: Novelists retained the basic features of Scott's formula by placing fictional characters and their adventures in the foreground. Wesseling stresses the fact that novelists basically remained within the matrix of the Waverley Novels.10 A facet of the Waverley Novels that frequently received attention was its moral efficacy (Wesseling 47). His heroes were mediators. while avoiding anachronisms as much as the contemporary state of the historiographical art would allow. historical fiction extended into diverging directions. rather than instruments for instructive revelations of an inner life. from nationalism to Victorian morality (Wesseling 50). and by investigating how historical events impinged on the daily lives of ordinary individuals. Wesseling comments (50). where strategies for integrating historical and fictional materials are concerned (51). novelists further expanded the generic repertoire of the historical novel.
who viewed that. in Wesseling s words. He engaged himself in quite thorough research. he made historical individuals the heroes of his novels.9 Bulwer s historical fiction stepped into a competitive position to historiography. rather than in the representation of epoch-making events or world-historical figures. instead of a supplementary one. which received definitive shape in the novels by Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton within the context of the English literary tradition. 9 . Contrary to the bulk of nineteenthcentury historical fiction. 53). Besides this. Simmons. Even to those nineteenth century authors who deliberately broke out of the confines of the Waverley model. Wesseling mentions the writer James C. (51) One nineteenth-century exception Wesseling mentions is the fictional biography or vie romancée. and did. (51-52) Bulwer's novels displayed a kind of historical fiction that strove after a more solid claim to factual resonance. customs and the like of former epochs. Bulwer sought to emulate Scott by boosting the historical reliability of the genre. laboriously researched novels such as Wesseling continues after this: This resulted in a new type of historical fiction which became a vogue in the 1830s and 1840s (52). as well as the genre s relation to historiography.11 landscape. but in fact altered the formula for integrating the historical and the fictional component. and that the role of the imagination was restricted to the divination of the inner motives which might have compelled the subjects of his narratives to commit specific deeds (52). manners. use fragments of legend and folkloric oral tradition as sources for his narratives (52). Bulwer s fiction not merely introduced thematic variations. Most novelists treaded in the footsteps of Scott by locating the historical component of historical fiction in the recreation of the milieu of former epochs. and based his plots on the recorded careers of their lives (52). he sought to outdo the historian at his own job (52. Bulwer claimed that the reader could directly turn to his novels for sound instruction that could rival with historical studies for reliability [ ] Rather than supplementing history. Wesseling: This set-up gave him reason to claim that his novels were made up of factual materials for the major part. Scott's oeuvre still constituted a fixed point of reference. as Scott had done.
11 By neigbouring genres . who harvested both praise and blame [ ] often coming from the same critic. and the historical novel in particular. The Cloister and the Hearth (1861) was written by Charles Reade. Wesseling does not refer specifically to one of Simmons works. .12 Romola or The Cloister and the Hearth are just as much indebted to Bulwer as to Scott (53). Concerning critical reception. manners. Wesseling explains that Scott was a controversial writer. The critic referred to is James Simmons. She mentions two of them in her bibliography: . At this point. Finally.The Novelist as Historian: An Unexplored Tract of Victorian Historiography. and material environment over and against the focus on political history (Wesseling 53). Yet. -The Novelist as Historian: Essays on the Victorian Historical Novel (Den Haag: Mouton. we can infer 10 Romola (1863): was written by George Eliot. (Wesseling 54). the classical model of historical fiction was of the utmost importance to the development of the later realist novel (Wesseling 53). indicated writing techniques and reminded historians of the attractions of a dramatized entrance into the past (Wesseling 53). the novel at large. Wesseling indicates historiography. 1973). Scott's influence on the genre of the historical novel can hardly be exaggerated. according to Wesseling (54). As for the novel at large.11 It automatically follows from this that the further development of the historical novel was linked up with the passing of Scott's prestige and popularity later on in the nineteenth century (Wesseling 54). The Passing of Scott's Popularity and Influence and other Changes in the Literary Field Wesseling explains that comparatively few scholars have busied themselves with asserting when Scott s work began to be less esteemed. at least where the first half of the nineteenth century is concerned. She states that Scott's work took up a vanguard position in the evolution of both the historical novel and its two neighbouring genres (54). Scott's influence on contemporary historiography concerned subject-matter and style. Victorian Studies 14 (1971): 293305. Scott reinforced the interest in customs. Wesseling mentions two critics who locate the decline of Scott's popularity with the reading public in the 1880's. and the novel in general.10 Scott's work influenced historiography.
who locates a lull in the production of historical fiction between the mid-1860s and the early 1890s and considers that the historical novels that were written after this period either did not conform to the Waverley model at all. Besides this. historicism gained ground. while holding on to external realism as well (Wesseling 56). 1936). the universality of human nature was a link with the past: As the historical novel derived its right of existence from facilitating the entrance into the past. is that of historical fiction. .13 from Hillhouse s comprehensive study of the reception of the Waverley Novels12 that Scott fared worse with the Victorian critics than with his contemporaries (Wesseling 55). Wesseling mentions Heinz-Joachim Müllenbrock. A third field to look at. and in historiography. according to Scott (Wesseling 57). and became increasingly critical of Scott's treatment of history. Victorians pointed to the shallowness in characterization and morals. values and even of human nature itself (Wesseling 56). in Wesseling's words. The developments mentioned above made the writing of historical fiction more difficult. which not only emphasized the historicity of outward living circumstances [ ] but also of norms. Wesseling summarizes a quote from the anonymous critic on the issue as: the novelist can at best attain external realism. or had but a tenuous relation to the more unhistorical embodiments of the Waverley model (Wesseling 55). The Waverley Novels and Their Critics (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. but he is almost bound to go awry where the detailing of the 12 James Hillhouse. the novelist should make the most of this link. Müllenbrock argues that the fact that Scott's work lost its model function had to do with developments in the novel in general. Exposures of anachronisms and mistakes in chronology become far more frequent than they had been during Scott s lifetime (Wesseling 55). the retrieval of the consciousness of our ancestors is a well-nigh impossible enterprise (57). Victorianism produced more pressing demands on novelists concerning the display of moral acumen in [ ] analysis of their [his characters'] mental lives. Already in 1847 an anonymous critic argued that. when investigating the appreciation of Scott. To Scott. For instance.
(68) I. Wesseling presents a quotation from Virginia Woolf from 1924 in which she states that Scott is one of the authors who have no more impact on others.14 inner life is concerned (57). or so Woolf argued. Wesseling concludes her chapter as follows: As the novel became more and more committed to some sort of psychological realism around the turn of the century. Scott's grip on eminent literature was gone. the difficulties of representing the consciousness of individuals from the past. Wesseling continues: Virginia Woolf's essays testify to a transformation of literary norms and values which put a high price on psychological introspection as an indispensable attribute of the novel form. In the twentieth century. would become an insurmountable obstacle and require of the ambitious novelist to either ignore the genre altogether or invent radically new alternatives for the Waverley model (58). She explains that Practicing novelists themselves have explained which features of Scott's fiction made the Waverley model passé in their eyes. She says that Woolf criticized Scott on psychological grounds (68).e.13 that pivotal link between the two centuries. Woolf was discontent with the lack of psychological depth in The Waverley Novels (68). Wesseling states on pages 67 and 68: I have argued that the nineteenth-century historical novel was gradually cut off from its moorings in the novelistic and the historiographical domain. and Wesseling argues that at that time it had seemingly become a general opinion that the form of the Waverley novels had become outdated. among whom Virginia Woolf (68). This is mentioned in a quote from Henry James (Wesseling 58). the difficulties mentioned by James. On Woolf's criticism on Scott and on some contemporary colleagues Wesseling states: Woolf blamed Scott and other materialists for their failure to do justice to the complexity of human consciousness (68). Twentieth-century developments in the writing of fiction and history but intensified this process. Writing historical fiction in the late-nineteenth century became an increasingly difficult task. Reality was considered to be too complex and diffuse to be dealt with in a pseudo-objective manner which neglects to pay due attention to the consciousness that perceives and interprets reality. 13 .
Changes in the Early Twentieth Century Wesseling comments as follows on developments in the field of historiography: The intellectual developments referred to above14 did not leave the discipline of historiography unaffected either. a development which fostered inquiries into the complex relations between the knowing subject and the outer world. autonomous existence of history (71) and the perspectivist nature of historical knowledge (71). He pointed out that the attribution of meaning and shape [to history] proceeds according to the interests of the historian (71). (Wesseling 69) This applies to the Modernists. which had inevitable consequences for the status of historical knowledge (70). Within the realm of literary art. In the early twentieth century questions began to arise in the field of the philosophy of history concerning the objectivity and impartiality of professional historicist historiography (Wesseling 70). The former issue was based on the 14 This refers to the developments I represented in the text before this paragraph. One of the more radical critics of historicism was Theodor Lessing. according to Wesseling. who. Other matters brought up by critics were the denial of an objective. this development was translated into a shift of interest away from the supposedly objective representation of empirical reality toward an investigation of the ways in which the individual consciousness plays an active and projecting. . connect the preoccupation with the individual consciousness to a changing perception of reality [ ] Both refer to the fact that the idea of external reality as a stable and intelligible totality was becoming increasingly problematic during the first half of this century. focused on the ways in which the spatial and temporal aspects of external reality impinge on our consciousness (69). Here the idea of history as an orderly and meaningful process with an inherent dynamics and purpose was thrown into doubt. a Dutch historical novelist. rather than a passive and reflecting role in forming images about itself and the outer world.15 Both Virginia Woolf and Hella Haasse.
before selecting their data and forming a picture of the past. This does not mean that in the first half of the twentieth century. modernist writers were more interested in . As was mentioned above. nature and use of historical knowledge (73). although the works that resulted from this effort were not immediately recognised as innovations of the genre of the historical novel. The changing perceptions and the criticism on historicism and historiography were bound to influence the literary genre of the historical novel. began to develop an alternative for the classical model in order to express an awareness of the fact that the meaning and intelligibility of history could not be taken for granted anymore (73). The Development of Alternatives According to Elisabeth Wesseling. which means that historians. In this phase the historical novel is not so much complementary to historiography as it takes up a metahistorical position towards it. already have an image of that past which influences the selection of the data and the final picture they form. the critique of historicism made it increasingly difficult for novelists to be able to substantiate their historiographical pretensions. the classical historical novel took up a complementary position towards historiography and functioned as a means of propagating historical knowledge. Instead of propagating historical knowledge. Another topic. The latter issue dealt with the fact that our versions of history are necessarily determined by the interests of the present. Collingwood. similar to this. Instead of focussing on the external world. G. To some extent the Modernists engaged themselves in this effort. However. with the postmodernist innovations of the historical novel. it was only after the Second World War that writers. postmodernist writers inquire into the possibility. was foregrounded by R. who wrote about the a priori imagination (71).16 assumption that history only comes into existence as an object of the historian's thought (71). no efforts at all were made by innovative writers to search for ways of adopting historical materials.
The first feature adds a narrative level. In modernist fiction. through mythical motifs. In modernist historical fiction. a determinant in the forming of a personality. The link becomes more of a symbolic one. In Scott's novels. It juxtaposes diverging views on the same subject matter. . which disrupts the supposedly direct relation between [ ] two levels of reality (83). which applies specifically to historical fiction (82). and stresses that history is a projection of the historian's consciousness. or rather a bundle of strategies. .Self-reflexivity.The transcendence of history. This gives way to a subjective use of history. or the individual consciousness. as follows: a strategy. Wesseling states her definition of self-reflexivity. and multiple focalisation. the links between historical moments are drawn in various other ways. The second feature is more implicit. . With respect to historical fiction this concern resulted in (1) examinations of the ways in which an awareness of the past shapes one's mental makeup. different points of time in history were linked as different stages in the same historical process. Elizabeth Wesseling mentions three characteristics of modernist historical fiction: -The subjectivisation of history. and (2) a continual concern with the question of how knowledge of the past can be acquired in the first place. similarity or repetition. Elizabeth Wesseling restricts self-reflexivity in historical fiction to two expressions of this phenomenon: explicit commentaries by historian-like characters. for instance. in which history plays a part. the characters were rather vehicles for conveying historical information than of any interest in themselves. In classical historical fiction. This relates to the way in which past and present were traditionally linked. because the focus was on depicting the external world.17 the inner world. it is the other way around: history becomes a vehicle. as Henry James called it (Wesseling 75). The focus is on the development of character. This concept concerns itself with epistemological issues. With two levels of reality Wesseling refers to the level of the res gestae of history (the deeds performed in the past) and the historia rerum gestarum (the narratives about the res gestae) (82).
18 without discriminating between true or false versions (83). Elizabeth Wesseling makes towards a description of postmodernist historical fiction. that is. Wesseling claims that not all of postmodernist historical fiction can be seen as continuous with modernist self-reflexivity (93). She poses: Perhaps now the outlines of a possible rapprochement between the historical novel and science fiction are becoming faintly visible (96). she brings in the concepts of genre and mode to clarify the relationship between utopian fantasy and science fiction. or in an unknown time. Wesseling adds that the alternate worlds of the utopian mode were positioned in a place somehow beyond the confines of empirical society. according to Wesseling. Wesseling states that the postmodernist infringements upon canonized history (94) can be seen as a hybrid of the historical novel and science fiction. She claims: we may state that the bulk of science fiction partakes of the utopian mode [ ] we can paraphrase this observation by stating that science fiction has become the modern avatar of utopian thought (96). Wesseling undertakes to depict the generic context she refers to. Next. and: In order to detail the gradual . Wesseling adds to this the statement that more alternate worlds are possible: they may also be projected backward in time. the future. and that science fiction has perpetuated both tendencies in its futurological and cosmological variants (96). and. into the past (96). Wesseling first shows a number of similarities between science fiction and utopian fantasy. Next. much more can be said about this salient phenomenon when we realize that postmodernist novels which falsify history have a metahistorical orientation and generic context which diverge from self-reflexive historical fiction (94). To explain this. Wesseling s starting point for describing the generic context of historical novels that alter canonised history is science fiction. From Modernism to Postmodernism Having described the modernist historical novel. A number of postmodernist historical novels contains gross violations of canonised history (93).
Rather they embed historical materials within the type of defamiliarizing context that one would associate with science fiction (99). Wesseling concludes her section on these three novels by stating: these novels do not yet overtly negate canonized history. Having said this. A third novel Wesseling mentions. One of these ways is fiction in which utopian fantasies about an ideal society tinge representations of the past (96). and in the other one. Wesseling moves on to a third stage in this entanglement of the historical novel and science fiction. and travels to the alternate world of the planet Trafalmadore (99). and also use a typical science fiction motif: time travel (97). which merges historical materials and utopian fantasies about alternate worlds in such a manner that alternate histories are the result (100). She then discusses two novels that are set in the Middle Ages. Wesseling introduces the next step in her line of argument by stating: A closer rapprochement between the two genres can be exemplified by novels which combine features of both historical and science fiction within a single work (97). Another one is fiction in which nostalgic dreams about the past affect conjectures about the future (96). These shifts produce a counterfactual course of . pictures a man who becomes unstuck in time. And later on she adds: Changes are wrought upon canonized history by effecting shifts among the various factors that played a role in a given historical situation or series of events. it is a blow on the head that launches the main character to the Middle Ages. In two of these novels. However: the futurological element in historical fiction. let me describe a number of ways in which the historical and the utopian imagination can confront each other. the main character is transported from the present back into the Middle Ages. The explicit settings of both types of fiction are clearly either the past or the future (97). and the historical element in futurological fiction remain implicit. and engage in an ever closer correspondence (94).19 advances of the two genres. Wesseling continues: Fictions which belong to this category change canonized history in ways one cannot ignore (100). In one of these novels a dream initiates the leap back in time.
tel qu il aurait pu être. Quoting the title of an 19th century work by Charles Renouvier. Wesseling also explains that the invention of alternate histories may be quite a rational and responsible intellectual endeavor. as such. fiction which deliberately departs from canonized history.) Esquisse historique apocryphe du développement de la civilisation européenne tel qu il n a pas été. losers of a power struggle may be turned into winners or vice versa. (L Utopie dans l Histoire. However. only she continues to use it as the term uchronian fantasy (or uchronian fiction). etc. although this is often the case (102). namely Uchronie. historical events and persons may be transferred from one epoch to another. Wesseling The title is: Uchronie. causal weight may be shifted from one historical factor to another. by imagining an apocryphal course of events. Thus. The term is used in two different ways. which clearly did not take place. can be of interest to professional historiography (104).15 Wesseling states: Uchronian fantasy locates utopia in history. and: Uchronian fiction may be regarded as a subspecies of counterfactual historical fiction. which to her captures what uchronian fantasy conveys. She reports that she has not yet found an English term for alternate histories. Wesseling adopts this term. literary scholarship has not thus far paid much attention to alternate histories (101). which. only one of which interests me here [ ] it has [ ] been used [ ] in order to refer to the type of counterfactual fantasy which devises alternatives within the confines of documented history (101). (100) Wesseling indicates that: Alternate histories are inspired by the notion that any given historical situation implies a plethora of divergent possibilities that far exceed the possibilities which happened to have been realized (100). Wesseling states: To my knowledge. but which might have taken place (102). that is.20 events which can either be more or less desirable than the way in which things actually turned out. world-historical figures may be made to set out upon an alternative course of action. Counterfactual falsifications of history need not necessarily be informed by clearcut utopian ideals. The German and French languages [ ] have a highly illuminative concept. 15 .
generals and other powerful public figures than about subordinated or defeated peoples and social classes.16 The second issue Wesseling addresses is that of The Political Implications of Uchronian Fiction (110). in the sense that parodic texts incorporate their target texts . (105) The rest of Wesseling s chapter on the entanglement (100) of the historical novel and science fiction addresses three more issues. statesmen. while science fiction has contributed the utopian mode. we may distinguish the various contributions of the two genres to this mongrel form as follows. a restriction which has a lot to do with the demand that the historian found his statements on documentary evidence. She states: The political potential of postmodernist uchronian fiction is realized in its exposure of the intimate connection between historical knowledge and political power (110). For the documents contain far more information about princes. counterfactual fantasy and counterfactual fiction as synonyms. academic criteria for validity by abiding by It seems to me that Elizabeth Wesseling uses the terms counterfactual conjecture.21 ends her section on uchronian fiction with the following statement: Viewing uchronian fiction as a crossbreed between science fiction and the historical novel. who usually do not have access to the channels of official culture and rarely make the records. If one strives to comply with institutionalised. First Wesseling devotes some attention to the Parodic Nature of Counterfactual Conjecture (105). 16 . The selective nature of the historical records in itself already accounts for the inextricable entanglement of historical knowledge and political power. as well as strategies for altering a given set of circumstances and deducing an alternate world around such premises by means of the hypothetico-deductive mode of reasoning. and: Evidently. The historical novel has contributed the subject matter of collective history and literary strategies for vivifying historical materials. the target of counterfactual conjecture is the reservoir of established historical facts and popular interpretations of those facts which makes up canonized history (105). She adds: It is a commonplace that official historiography tends to write the history of the winners. She says: We may [ ] ascribe a parodic aspect to counterfactual fantasies.
17 Wesseling then pays attention to the legitimating function of historical knowledge (110). If historical discourse tacitly depicts history as an objective process with an inherent motin [sic] and purpose of its own. For this reason. It says: Once a great victory is won it dominates not only the future but the past. [ ] but to strengthen the position of subordinated groups in the present and to suggest possibilities for greater equality in the future. (110) Wesseling points out that Uchronian fiction [ ] disputes the monopoly of the realized possibilities on the land of reality by making alternate developments visible (110). by redistributing the roles of winners and losers in actual history. All the chains of consequence clink out as if they never could stop. as a necessary precondition for the disruption of the status quo. uchronian fantasies are devised in the hope that. 17 . although they are admittedly untrue. [ ] Therefore. and to make us aware of the contingency of the outcome of such historical struggles. the passions that were quelled. one not only aspires toward intellectual respectability but contributes to the perpetuation of a given distribution of power. To counter canonized history with rival versions does not so much aim at remedying the partiality of the first. This counterfactual shift does not mean to compete with canonized history where veracity is concerned. (111) The phrase land of reality refers to a quote from Winston Churchill which Wesseling presented just before the sentence I ve quoted here. whose right of existence is beyond dispute and to whose extension into the future we must acceed. The hopes that were shattered. It also explains why they attempt to inscribe the losers of history into our historical memory. the sacrifices that were ineffectual are all swept out of the land of reality (Wesseling 110). they may perhaps come true at some point in the future. Rather. canonized history has been compromised by a legitimating role.22 the records. (110-111) Wesseling indicates the tendency of writers of uchronian fiction to identify sympathetically with those who suffered rather than made history. the seizure and continual extension of power is often accompanied by the rewriting of history [ ] The legitimating function of historical knowledge explains why the counterfactual parodies of postmodernist historical fiction seek to remind us of the contingency of history. it aims to remind us of the power struggles which preceded the institution of a specific distribution of power. Time and again. then any particular status quo is to be regarded as the inevitable outcome of an inexorable development.
thus. autonomy. however. is bound to degenerate into either naïve optimism which lacks consciousness of the constraints upon our possibilities for creating a relatively just society. Where literature and literary theory are concerned. better phases. Some utopian thinkers can only hold out the promise of a happy future by blotting out the past. who has described the tragic course of twentieth-century history. indeed. indeed. or into cynical nihilism. meliorative views on the course of the historical process. Uchronian fiction. This detour. Such unfounded idealism.and nineteenth-century writers had invested their hope for a better future: modern technology [ ] Moreover. It has become utterly impossible to cherish this belief after the genocide of the two world wars. originality . separated from its cultural context and. as the bitter fruits of the kind of utopian idealism which has been raised upon the shaky grounds of historical amnesia. but to imagine it from unrealized possibilities that lie dormant in the past. The straightforward projection of utopian ideals into the future presupposes the belief that human history proceeds through ever higher. this shift in world view has instigated a reorientation toward esthetic concepts such as invention . Moreover. fantasies of the future which suppress the past are amenable to totalitarianism: But the problem with the future as either despair of beatitude is that it is a future considered in the abstract: loosened from its historical bearings. (111-112) Next.23 The paragraph that follows this quote is presented below: Uchronian fantasy speculates about the future by way of a detour through the past. Fuentes argues. Consequently. the excesses of Stalinism and Western imperialism. is the only remaining possibility for utopian thinking in the face of the demise of progressivist. does not attempt to anticipate the future ex nihilo. counterfactual fantasy complies with the emphasis which contemporary social sciences and philosophy place on the extent to which the individual subject is determined by linguistic and languagelike social conventions. the repeated successes of totalitarian regimes in general. it seems to me. Wesseling introduces the Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes. as articulated in the death-of-the-author theme. and. . when the stark contrast between airy dreams about the future and the corruption of the present leads to severe disillusionment. on the concept of the individual subject in general. the imaginative anticipation of the future which attempts to raise itself above extant social conventions has ceased to convince us. and the threatening destruction of the natural environment which have been brought about by [the] very thing in which many eighteenth.
They give a useful picture of the major differences between modernist and postmodernist historical fiction. Wesseling outlines a number of differences between modernist self-reflexivity and postmodernist counterfactual parody. Remember the future. but a plea for an imaginative approach to history which searches for hitherto suppressed alternatives to the status quo. This is not a call for a return to historical realism. (113) In the last section of her chapter on the historical novel and science fiction. Modernist writing demonstrates how diverging meanings can be attributed to the same fact. To interpret their departures from established historical facts as irresponsible and facile erasures of the distinction between fact and fiction amounts to being insufficiently aware of the emancipating political ethos which informs a considerable number of postmodernist historical novels. 18 . a conclusion she draws from having discussed Fuentes material. (112-113) Wesseling adds: Thus. Both self-reflexivity and counterfactual conjecture relativize the distinction between fact and fiction. 19 Carlos Fuentes. quite differently. the type of historical consciousness which attempts to imagine the past from the perspective of the losers rather than the winners of history is the most reliable guide to a hopeful future. speculates about ways in which events might have taken an entirely different course. but they do so from different perspectives. 18 [ ] Fuentes essay19 greatly clarifies the liberties which postmodernist novelists take with canonized history. thereby bringing out the polyinterpretability of the historical record.24 easily kidnapped by a paramount philosophy manipulated by a paramount political or military power (Fuentes 1986: 338) [ ] Fuentes tentatively answers the question of how the Latin-American continent can stake out a future for itself by advocating a reconsideration of the past. Salmagundi 68-69 (1986): 333-352. Postmodernist counterfactual conjecture. or if it is a statement Wesseling uses to summarise Fuentes thinking. (113) It is not entirely clear to me whether this is Wesseling s own conclusion. which foregrounds the malleability of the historical reality.
Trans. If Louis XVI Had Had an Atom of Firmness. postmodernist counterfactual conjecture derives the problematic nature of the distinction between fact and fiction from the contingency of the historical fact. (114) Unlike postmodernist counterfactual fiction. it makes it metahistorical point by parodically inverting and exaggerating the rhetoric of historical representation. which bestows a dignity upon the phenomena thus branded which implies a great deal more than their mere truth. a title. In modernist self-reflexivity the retrieval of the past forms a subject of explicit reflection. indeed. Maurois historian expresses an awareness of the fact that the distinction between fact and fiction is not only an epistemological problem. (Wesseling s reference states: title. . 49-77. Postmodernist counterfactual parody is far more implicit in this respect.20 Thus.) 21 That is. The phrasing of the above quotation21 also points to a second difference between the two sets of strategies as implemented in modernist and postmodernist writing. are equally valid? (Maurois 1931: 53). and that of unrealised on those others which. Rather than explicitly reflecting upon historiographical constraints. the quote from Maurois novel. The epithet real is. postmodernist 20 From: André Maurois. Hamish Miles. Squire 1931. you say. Squire 1931. This political concern is all the more emphatic in those counterfactual fantasies which partake of the utopian mode. Hamish Miles. The metahistorical implications of counterfactual conjecture therefore reach beyond epistemology to an exposure of the ways in which versions of history function as instruments of power in the here and now. The third difference between modernist self-reflexivity and postmodernist counterfactual fiction is the following.25 Wesseling quotes from an André Maurois novel. in which an historian talks to an archangel: if all Possibilities have the same validity. trans. why bestow the title of real on the one which I have lived. While modernist writers still search for a valid representation of the past within the constraints of subjectivity. modernist self-reflexivity is not characterised by an awareness of the fact that the distinction between fact and fiction is not only an epistemological problem (see the above quote). This parody is far more irreverent toward historiography than modernist self-reflexivity. Versions of history that receive this title are not only imbued with epistemological but also with political superiority to versions that have not come true.
it questions the very existence of the res gestae as an independent level of historical discourse (Wesseling 120). It builds upon the version of self-reflexivity introduced by Modernist writers such as Virginia Woolf and William Faulkner. is also a characteristic of postmodernist historical fiction. has become an established literary device in historical fiction. To put it differently. or the imposition of a plot on a plotless reality (Wesseling 120). use is made of explicit reflection on the retrospective retrieval of the past. I will represent Wesseling's further exposition of the two kinds of postmodernist self-reflexivity she has identified in historical fiction: historiography in the making and history in the making. The other kind of self-reflexivity Wesseling mentions is new. counterfactual parody is a new element of postmodernist historical fiction. as self-reflexivity is continued in the genre. while self-reflexivity is a continuation of an earlier trend. . This type of self-reflexivity does not merely question the relationship between the res gestae and the narratives about them. The first is characterised by reflecting on Historiography in the Making (120). The making of history is exposed as if it were the writing of a story. by way of a historian-like character. which became commonly used by Modernists. or by multiple focalisation. It not so much reflects on the writings about history. Wesseling pays attention to that aspect as well. Next. in that way. As in modernist historical fiction. besides the phenomenon of counterfactual parody.26 counterfactual parodies exchange the concern with the possible validity of versions of history for a sustained inquiry into their functionality. Wesseling divides postmodernist self-reflexivity up into two kinds of self-reflexivity. and. Counterfactual parody to Wesseling is the most important addition to the repertoire of the postmodernist historical novel. or external narrator. Still. (114) Postmodernist Self-reflexivity Elizabeth Wesseling argues that self-reflexivity. but on the making of history itself.
the idea that our versions of the past constitute an incurably partial and preconceived body of knowledge. namely that it is shaped by emotional needs. There are three causes for this. 1. According to Elizabeth Wesseling.27 Historiography in the Making A number of features appear in postmodernist historical fiction. This agrees with what philosophers of literature like Lessing have said about historical knowledge. Selectivity Selectivity limits our perspectives on the past. 3. so as to inquire into the ways in which the subjective imagination deforms the res gestae. Unreliability of sources This feature points out that authentication of true material is next to impossible. Inevitably. through which authors reflect upon methods of historical research and narration. historical narratives are of a partisan nature as well. They project the historian's image into the past. One way in which novelists foreground this aspect is by demonstrating the ambiguity of relics from the past. seems to have become widely accepted among postmodernist novelists (122). such as a need for identity. Partiality of historical knowledge Postmodernist novelists [ ] expose the partisan nature of historical knowledge. They expressly draw our attention to the highly self-interested motives which cause their historianlike characters to set out on a quest for the past (121). I have numbered them one to five below. A. [W]e have to make do with whatever relics happen to have survived the wear and tear of . 2.
the historian only selects as noteworthy those historical data that fit into the picture which he has in mind. or a web of imaginative construction. they show teleological continuity to be a sign of the historical imagination at work. B.G. Narrativity (teleology) Postmodernist novelists expose the autonomy of narrative conventions. . 5. events. 4. italics mine) C. as he calls it [ ] Accordingly. realistic. the politically successful. The second cause is epistemological. such as a certain hierarchy of more or less trustworthy data. As the critical philosophy of history has pointed out. there are still some enclaves of authenticity. Political selectivity: only the individuals and collectivities that made the records. (125-126. are of historiographical interest. It is not so much the sufferers of history that historiography is interested in. Rather than representing an order inherent in history. or references to a known.g. but the victors. authentic historical knowledge. These novels contain signs that point toward the possibility of valid. Enclaves of authenticity In some novels. individuals). Collingwood has explained the perspectivist nature of historical knowledge by arguing that the historian aims at the construction of a coherent picture of the past.28 time (125). and they foreground the literary features of the narrative representation of history. our insights into the past are determined by the type of questions we put to the source materials [ ] R. factual historical context (e.
Wesseling has presented quite a clear outline of the features of self-reflexivity in the postmodernist historical novel. The first level is that of the historian's discourse [which] is shown to reflect the subjective preoccupations of the historian and his narrative instruments. they will be used in analysing Julian Barnes' A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters. namely aesthetic history and political history. Even these are robbed of their self-evidence by suggesting that the making of history follows fictional scenarios which. The second level is that of the sources for historiography. which are shown to be tinged by subjective desires and perhaps even deliberate forgery (135). I will not reflect more of this here. The third level is that of the actual historical events. more fundamental one (Wesseling 135). have likewise been determined by linguistic tropes and topoi (135). Wesseling states that different types of subject matter are addressed by texts that deal with the issue of history in the making. rather than historical reality (135). she quite elaborately illustrates this by looking at a few novels which represent the treatment of either of these two kinds of history. works via shifts from one level of historical discourse to a lower.29 History in the Making The second type of postmodernist self-reflexivity Wesseling describes. Chapter three focuses on self-reflexivity and chapter four deals with counterfactual and uchronian fiction. Next. in their turn. . In the next two chapters.
the title of the chapter suggests that it deals with a dream. but rather zooms in on a number of events in specific moments in time. chapter ten. . it is not about world history as it is generally seen. Before starting the assessment of the novel. a concise introduction to the novel is called for. or at least not a representation of world history as it is generally seen. the novel does not offer an allencompassing overview of world history. One other difficult case could be Parenthesis which seems to be set in a contemporary time. The approach of this chapter will be to take the characteristics of self-reflexivity and examine if. I do not think heaven is a place in time. Whereas this chapter and the next one focuses on the examination of Barnes novel and the findings of this examination. as the combination A History indicates. and the chapters are not placed in chronological order. and besides that. in Wesseling s opinion. The chapters are set in various times of history. which is called The Dream . Some of the chapters are clearly based on well-known historical events. as for times in history they describe. but a place outside of time and so I judge it correct to say that the novel deals with history from the Flood up into the twentieth century. the next aim is to assess if and how these characteristics are reflected in Barnes A History of the World in 10 ½ Chapters. However. However. at least in the twentieth century.30 Chapter 3 Self-Reflexivity in A History of the World in 10 ½ Chapters Having described what. more extensive comments on the results will be provided in chapter five. As the title of A History of the World in 10 ½ Chapters suggests. Thus. the novel consists of ten chapters and a half which deal with world history. ranging from Noah s Flood up to the twentieth century. and how they are reflected in the novel. but indications that it takes place later than the twentieth century were not found. or merely have a historical setting. which means the novel actually deals with world history ranging from the Flood to heaven. but no specific event as their basis.22 There are major time gaps between these periods in history. the characteristics of postmodernist historical fiction are. The next chapter will do the same with the characteristics of counterfactual and uchronian fiction. others are based on less known events. Here is a short overview of the chapters: 22 There is also a chapter about heaven in the novel. One might be inclined to think that heaven deals with the future.
6. The Visitors: the cruise ship Santa Euphemia is hijacked by a Black Thunder group (Arab terrorists). Louis. The Mountain: Amanda Ferguson sets out on an expedition to Mount Ararat (1840) 7. 8. a young man comes into contact with a survivor of the Titanic disaster. Parenthesis: The half chapter. 4. Kath Ferris sails away from the destruction of the world. The novel addresses many issues. The Dream: A dream (it is suggested) about heaven. The Stowaway: a woodworm s version of the Flood. Presents a legal case against woodworm. it focuses mainly on the issue of love. e. The Survivor: At the time of the Cuba Crisis (1962). 3. The Wars of Religion: Set in the sixteenth century. many of which are addressed explicitly. Upstream!: Letters written by Charlie.31 1. Three Simple Stories: -In 1964. Project Ararat: Spike Tiggler. is kept from landing on various shores (1939). Charlie is part of a film crew shooting a film in the jungle. who has walked on the moon. an actor. and some of them implicitly. 5. and it is quite a . to his girlfriend. 2. James Bartley (1981). -The St. 10. embarks on a search for Noah s Ark on Mount Ararat (1970 s). Shipwreck: On the event concerning the shipwreck of the Medusa (1816) and Gericault s painting of the event (1819). carrying many Jews on board.g. To analyse A History of the World is not an easy task. 9. -Narrative of Jonah and other survivors of being eaten by a big fish.
but have enough affiliation with them to be placed under the heading of a particular feature. plain narrative text). Self-reflexivity: Historiography in the Making Partiality of historical knowledge On page 23 of my thesis I presented this feature in the following way: Postmodernist novelists [ ] expose the partisan nature of historical knowledge. one could say that the novel is not a harmonious whole. In a way. which differ from each other in many respects.32 complicated task to draw exact boundaries between these issues and say: this element clearly expresses a concern with the partiality of historical knowledge as part of historiography in the making. style of writing. Some may not agree with Wesseling s comments completely. Statements that apply to one chapter may not apply to another. will be organised as follows. the several features are used as tools to detect signs of self-reflexivity in the novel. documents representing old legal procedures. diary fragments. Therefore. This will not necessarily mean that the examples from the text fit Wesseling s descriptions of the features exactly. the types of text (letters. for instance. or rather ten and a half chapters. the section on self-reflexivity. They expressly draw our attention to the highly self-interested motives which cause their historian-like characters to set out on a quest for the past (121). The features of self-reflexivity will be taken one at a time. This agrees with what philosophers of literature like Lessing have said about . or to the novel as a whole. for instance: the periods of history that are described. The novel consists of one. Given these circumstances. and the text searched for expressions of this particular feature. It is sometimes even hard to distinguish between counterfactual conjecture and self-reflexivity. In this way. the reviewing of each feature in the novel will be illustrated with examples from various chapters. which follows this paragraph. tone. in order to come to a convincing conclusion. points of view (first-person or third-person).
They project the historian's image into the past. He explicitly deals with the issue in his narration. I am a little set apart from the rest of animal society. his own account is supposed to be neutral and trustworthy. According to Elizabeth Wesseling. My account you can trust. and he directly addresses the reader. historical narratives are of a partisan nature as well. are they? Not when they ve been treated as heroes. In fact. But they re not going to rock the boat. I feel no sense of obligation. not when it s become a matter of pride that each and every one of them can proudly trace its family tree straight back to the Ark. Woodworm. and. as Woodworm explains later on in the narrative. Inevitably. I was never chosen. so do human beings. then. which still has its nostalgic reunions: there is even a Sealegs Club for species which never once felt queasy. gratitude puts no smear of Vaseline on the lens. The narrator of this chapter is a woodworm who was a stowaway on the Ark during the Flood. When I recall the Voyage. as he shall be called in this thesis. . seems to have become widely accepted among postmodernist novelists (122). which still charms even sceptics. namely that it is shaped by emotional needs. Your species has its much repeated version.33 historical knowledge. (4) In other words: the other animals have their reasons for backing up certain versions. such as a need for identity. while the animals have a compendium of sentimental myths. I too survived. The first elements signing an affiliation with the issue of partial historical knowledge can be found in the first chapter of Barnes novel: "The Stowaway". I was specifically not chosen. But I am not constrained in that way. It is safe to say that his presentation differs considerably from the Biblical account and traditional Christian views of it. Woodworm is very much aware of this fact. and I have flourished. and stresses the authority of his own version: Now. presents us with his account of the Flood. However. the idea that our versions of the past constitute an incurably partial and preconceived body of knowledge. they endured. I escaped (getting off was no easier than getting on). they survived: it s normal for them to gloss over the awkward episodes. like several other species. and his perceptions of Noah and his family. They were chosen. to have convenient lapses of memory. I realize that accounts differ. I was a stowaway.
envious and cowardly (16). I put it down to your quaint obsession with multiples of . because of his position. a neutral source. For instance. Woodworm seems to perceive things from an animal point of view. Woodworm s narration shows a number of instances where it is obvious that he views things from a different point of view than human beings do. rational beings.34 It is interesting to examine if Woodworm indeed comes across as a neutral source of information. or restrictions because of a woodworm s point of view. they see how subjective Woodworm s views can be. It is questionable that the status of being specifically not chosen did not have any effect on his version. or at least. and mentions an instance of animals offering up a petition to Noah (Barnes. one who escaped and flourished. part of his criticism does make a point. the fact that his account is likely to contain bias. When he states that Noah was bad-tempered. a stowaway. smelly. However. for instance. because he cannot grow his own hair except around his face. However. this may come as a shock to those who hold to traditional Christian views. Woodworm states his position as one who was not chosen. just as the position of those who were chosen affected their versions of what happened. he portrays animals as thinking. 14). when one page later they read that Woodworm looks down on Noah s outward appearance. a survivor. Besides this. is not a solid ground for rejecting all of its contents. and. unreliable. The first quote is on pages 4 and 5: the waters were upon the earth for a hundred and fifty days? Bump that up to about four years [ ] Your species has always been hopeless about dates. the weakness of the above quoted statements on other animals is. The effect of this can be that the version of history he presents is put somewhat in perspective. Woodworm s identity (that of a woodworm) does play some role in his perception of events. This will now be illustrated with the use of two quotes. from a woodworm s point of view. one who is not obliged to anyone. that they boomerang back on him. However. Despite some cracks in Woodworm s authority as a neutral source of information.
The example in the above quote is an extreme case of this forced treatment. as part of an expedition for Senegal [which] consisted of four vessels (115). Probably a statement like this will not convince many true-blue adherents of the Christian faith of the alternative dates Woodworm brings forward. and the above quote may cause some to wonder about the influence that important numbers may have had on the writing of history. about two and a half weeks later. up until the moment fifteen survivors are picked up from a raft. However. Another passage states: Some of those scholars who devote their lives to your sacred texts have even tried to prove that the Noah of the Ark wasn t the same man as the Noah arraigned for drunkenness. Another chapter that draws attention to the partiality of historical knowledge is chapter five. This chapter is divided into two sections.35 seven. The first section describes the events concerning the shipwreck of the Medusa in 1816. and this. Historical data can cause an inner conflict when they clash with a person s personal beliefs. The first part of chapter five relates how the Medusa set sail on the 17th of June 1816. and the second section focuses on Gericault s painting of the shipwreck. The period of time between the shipwrecking and the rescue is related in most detail. can lead to a forced treatment of the data involved. it is true that certain numbers play an important role in the Bible. the process of painting that was involved as well as the final outcome of this process. and adds some information on what happened to a few other victims of the Medusa tragedy. The text relates the journey from its departure to its shipwrecking. It is the manner in which the events are described which is interesting . (29) Woodworm mentions this in trying to illustrate the way in which humans attempt to deal with the problems that some historical facts produce for them. Shipwreck . as is shown in the example Woodworm relates.
The speaker of the introduction claims: nothing [is] absent from the essential structure and argument of the case. he ends his description with: By the time the villains were subdued. and the author of the introduction underlines the interest the case could have for legal historians. held in the sixteenth century. it collapsed and the bishop had become mentally handicapped as a result. 61). The reader is . Next. there are small signs that the speaker is not completely neutral. The text of this chapter represents the proceedings of a legal case against woodworms. and the throne of the Bishop of Besançon. for instance by demonstrating the ambiguity of relics from the past. when the narrator of chapter five. Except for the opening and ending passages. For instance. Parts of the proceedings have been left out. The woodworms are charged for having eaten the woodwork of a church in Mamirolle. it seems the text is an impartial description of the things that happened. part I. However. This feature points to the difficulty of authenticating true material. relates one of the mutinies that took place on the raft. as it was assumed that references to these proceedings in the actual presented document would suffice. including the roof. Chapter three deals with the authenticity of a historical document. it is stated that the following documents [ ] do not represent the entire proceedings. When the Bishop had sat down in his throne. The source of the text is mentioned: the Archives Municipales de Besançon (p. The label of villains seems somewhat partisan. the raft was laden with corpses (118). and this villain is also called a treacherous underling (119). On the one hand. Unreliability of Sources The second feature to be examined is that of the unreliability of sources. The presented proceedings of the case are preceded by an introduction which brings the aspect of authenticity to the attention of the reader.36 in this section on partial historical knowledge. it is a chronological account which mentions much data. The issue of unreliable sources is addressed directly and indirectly in Barnes novel. It reoccurs shortly after this: taking the villain by the hair .
supposed to trust the competence of the person(s) who decided what would be included in the documents. Next, the Translator s note reveals that the manuscript was written in one and the same hand, which means we are not dealing with the original submissions as
penned by each lawyer s clerk, but with the work of a third party who may have omitted sections of the pleas. So, the manuscript is a representation of a representation of a case, and it is claimed once, and suggested another time that the contents have been edited. At the end of the introduction the translator states: I have done my best to render the sometimes extravagant style of pleading especially of the unnamed procureur des habitans
into a comparable English (62). So, on top of the document coming from a third hand, it is a translated text, and not an easy one to have to render into comparable English, because of the particular style of pleading presented in the source language. In conclusion it can be said that the introduction to the case, including the translator s note points out that a number of the text s aspects are likely to have influenced its authenticity, that is, its authenticity as a trustworthy reflection of the case as it took place in 1520. The ambiguity of relics surfaces in two chapters. In chapter six, Amanda Fergusson sets out on a journey to mount Ararat to intercede for her father s soul. Miss Logan is her companion for the expedition. On their journey they meet an Armenian priest who claims no one has ever ascended the mountain they want to climb. Later on in their conversation, he offers them a black amulet, which he claims to be a piece of bitumen from Noah s Ark. Amanda rejects the offer, explaining they are not likely to believe the amulet to be authentic if the mountain is impossible to climb. The priest maintains that the piece of bitumen could have come down from the mountain in a miraculous way, or by a bird. The episode on the amulet ends with the ladies and the priest parting without a bargain being struck (155). No decisive answer is given about the question of the authenticity of the amulet. It has to be stressed, that the episode described only takes up a paragraph in a twenty-five page chapter and does not play a role in the rest of the narrative.
Elements that can be related to issues of authenticity and of reliability of sources also occur in chapter seven: Three Simple Stories (141). The chapter contains three parts. The first part relates the story of a young man who teaches for one term at a crammer. During this time he becomes acquainted with Lawrence Beesley, who founded the school and, now in his mid-eighties, still lives on the premises of the school. Beesley is a well-known survivor of the Titanic disaster. The data that could confirm this fact, however, are endowed with some ambiguity. Beesley still keeps a blanket embroidered with the name of the ship that picked him up after the disaster. However, some of Beesley s family members think the embroidering dates from some time after the rescue. These family members are labelled sceptical (173), and no solid ground is given for their claim. Still, the fact remains that the issue concerning the blanket s authenticity is raised explicitly. A final example of ambiguous relics can be found in chapter nine: Project Ararat. Chapter nine is about Spike Tiggler. As an astronaut, he has walked on the moon, and it was right there that he experienced God s voice telling him to go and find the Ark on the Ararat in Turkey. Some time after his return, Spike starts to take this calling more seriously. After a period of publicity and raising money, he sets out on an expedition to the Ararat, together with Dr Jimmy Fulgood, college basketball star turned geologist and scuba-diver (267). At a certain moment they indeed find something: a human skeleton. Spike is convinced they have found Noah s remains, which are miraculously well-preserved. However, when part of the skeleton is researched, it turns out it belongs to a woman and is about one hundred and fifty years old.23 Spike had been so ready to believe in miracles, that he had assumed the bones were Noah s. If it was not for up-to-date research methods, the opposite could not have been proved.
This seems to be a reference to chapter six, where Amanda dies on the Ararat.
Selectivity The third feature to be discussed is selectivity. Wesseling has described three issues related to selectivity that obstruct our perspectives on the past, which were mentioned before in the second chapter of this thesis. I will briefly introduce them again and present reflections of these particular issues in the text. The first issue related to selectivity points out that selectivity is caused by the fact that historians simply have to work with whatever relics survived history. This issue does not seem to play a major role in Barnes novel. Examples are not evident in the text. One passage that might be related to the kind of selectivity discussed here, is the introduction to chapter three, The Wars of Religion. This passage brings forward a translator who has to make do with the manuscript that describes the legal case. Some information can be gathered from the handwriting the manuscript was written in, and from the Archives Municipales de Besançon, but besides this, the translator can only guess about the omissions and changes that have taken place, and the manuscript is what he or she has to work with. Besides this passage, no other examples stand out from the text. The second aspect of selectivity points out that a person who searches for the past aims at a certain picture. In Wesseling s words: As the critical philosophy of history has pointed out, our insights into the past are determined by the types of questions we put to the source materials (Wesseling 126). Further on she states: the historian only selects as noteworthy those historical data that fit into the picture which he has in mind (126). So, the historian is aiming at a coherent picture of the past and this makes him or her selective towards historical data. An passage from chapter two, The Visitors corresponds with this feature. This chapter relates the hijacking of the cruise ship Santa Euphemia. Franklin Hughes, known as a television presenter, stays on board the ship as a guest lecturer. He is appointed spokesperson for the passengers (by the terrorists). When the leader of the hijackers tells Franklin about the procedure that will follow (namely: killing two passengers
every hour) if their demands are not met, Franklin suggests that it would be better to have things explained to the passengers. The next day, Franklin is told that his suggestion has been taken into consideration, and he is forced to take on himself the task of explaining to the passengers what is happening. How they are mixed up in history. What that history is (51). Franklin receives precise instructions for this, and he is to explain things exactly in terms of these instructions. On page 55, part of Franklin s speech is reflected as follows:
Hughes sketched an idyllic nineteenth century, all nomads and goat-farming and traditional hospitality [ ] He talked of early Zionist settlers and Western concepts of land-ownership. The Balfour Declaration. Jewish immigration from Europe. The Second World War. European guilt over the Holocaust being paid for by the Arabs [ ] Their [Jews] militarism, expansionism, racism. Their pre-emptive attack on the Egyptian air force at the start of the Six Day War being the exact moral equivalent of Pearl Harbour [ ] The refugee camps. The theft of land. The artificial support of the Israeli economy by the dollar. The atrocities committed against the dispossessed. The Jewish lobby in America. The Arabs only asking from the Western Powers for the same justices in the Middle East as had already been accorded to the Jews. The regrettable necessity of violence, a lesson taught the Arabs by the Jews, just as it had been taught the Jews by the Nazis. (55-56)
What is striking about this fragment of history, is that it is very one-sided. It focuses mainly on the crimes committed by Jews and those who supported them, and the suffering of the other party. This episode not only conveys subjectivity, but is also selective. It focuses on violent or criminal actions of the Jewish side, and leaves out the violence and crimes that came from their enemies. Franklin s speech aimed at a coherent representation of history, and only the data that fitted this representation were selected. Other straightforward connections to the second type of selectivity were not found in the novel. The third selectivity-related issue to be discussed is that of political selectivity. It focuses on the phenomenon that, in Wesseling s words, historiography can only concern itself with those individuals and collectivities who have made the historical record (Wesseling 126). According to Lessing, Wesseling states, political success is what is needed
and about the fact that later on it is decided the meat will be fed to the mink.41 to leave a mark on the records. rather than made history are quickly erased from our historical memory (126). but on Kath. mention is made of a nuclear disaster in Russia. No other examples could be distinguished in the novel. A significant passage on this: At first the plan was to bury the reindeer six feet down. and when it is described that she is upset about feeding the meat to the mink. to Kath it is a major issue. In chapter four. and who are not an important news item. but Barnes choice for a subject in a chapter that (except for descriptions of Kath s earlier life) is set against the background of the Cold War. even though it wasn t much of a news story. Wesseling remarks on a quote from Lessing on this subject that historiography tends to write the history of the victors. while those who suffered. but a major issue to Kath. She is also upset about what happens to the meat of these reindeer. Still. In this text. She is unimportant to the political scene. radioactive reindeer in Russia apparently are a minor news item to most people. which could be an expression of an affiliation with the issue of political selectivity. and the consequences it had for the reindeer that had become radioactive as a consequence. One doubtful case is the following. Kath Ferris displays a concern for reindeer. While the story of this chapter takes place in the Cold War. It wasn t much of a news story. just an inch or two on the foreign page (85). the text says: Most people had stopped paying attention to what she was telling them by now (86). Maybe this could be seen as an expression of Barnes concern to focus on one who does not occupy the centre of the . it does not focus on the war. A concern with political selectivity is not so easy to detect in the novel. This has started in her childhood and continues when she grows up. At a certain point in the narrative. here is one example from chapter four. The people around Kath do not understand her concern with these issues. another aspect of chapter four. However. This could be related to the issue of political selectivity in that it shows someone with a concern for those who are forgotten by others.
in chapter one it is part of the narrative set-up. Still. whereas the reoccurrence of boats in historical narratives is somewhat incredible. disembark in Havana. Kath Ferris boat in chapter four. in chapter two. The most striking phenomenon is that of woodworm. One example is the novel as a whole. and Gericault s painting of the event. in chapter five. As was mentioned in chapter two of this thesis. when it is remarked on Gericault s painting: And no doubt if they examine the frame they will discover woodworm living there (139). And. it is not strange. the Ark or other boats occur several times: the Santa Euphemia in chapter two. For instance. However. on the Flood. It is striking that certain themes or items keep occurring in the novel. life on the raft. the St Louis is not allowed to let its passengers. For instance in chapter five. In chapter seven. However. this aspect focuses on teleology as a sign of the historical imagination at work. part three. it is also applied to the splitting up of passengers of the Santa Euphemia. according to their nationalities. It occurs in four chapters. for the most part Jews. the example is not very clearly related to the issue of political selectivity. woodworm also occur in narratives in a very artificial way. And in The Wars of Religion it is the subject of the chapter. in the last sentence of the chapter.42 political or historical scene. that of woodworm seems completely fabricated. Another example is the theme of separating the clean and unclean. In chapter one. Besides this there are other reoccurring things. woodworms pop up. Narrativity The fourth aspect of historiography in the making is that of narrativity. Of course. the Medusa in chapter five and so on. Then. which is all about the wrecking of the Medusa. and on the literary features of the narrative representation of history (see page 24). and the throwing overboard of the ill from the raft of the Medusa. When it is suggested that a number of them can disembark in . which occurs in at least seven chapters.
it can be argued that the reoccurrence of the above-mentioned elements has to do with the fact that Barnes was aiming at some kind of thematic goal. And it was something beyond what we then knew. Noah claimed that the dove was the bird that found the olive branch after the flood. [ ] the reindeer sensed something. Still. where it is mentioned Gericault used it to make the shadow as black as possible (139). This passage is an obvious reference to chapter four. whatever it as. Finally. this is also compared to separating the clean from the unclean (184). Naturally. major long-term (13). As if they were saying. where Amanda Fergusson is offered a piece of bitumen which had supposedly been part of the Ark. a certain kind of substance that was used in the construction of the Ark. A third example is that in chapter one. Woodworm relates about the reindeer aboard the Ark: the reindeer were troubled with something [ ] long-term. and in chapter eight another Linda occurs. in contrast to what supposedly really happened. To counterbalance this argument some more examples will be given of other reoccurrences. or some planks still caulked with bitumen (273). Besides the example of bitumen. there are a number of things that occur in two chapters. and Amanda s companion wonders: was that not the material used by artists to blacken the shadows in their paintings? (155). For instance. which relates Spike Tiggler s search for the Ark: Jimmy [Spike s companion] was uncertain whether they were due to find the whole Ark [ ] or just some significant remnant: the rudder. and points to the fact that the dove . even the reindeer couldn t be specific about it. and then in chapter six. and in that way seem to connect these two chapters. perhaps. For instance. In chapter one. where reindeer become victims of a nuclear disaster. You think this is the worst? Don t count on it. but also by Gericault in his painting.43 return for those who were supposed to go on board in that harbour. Woodworm relates that. in chapter four one of Kath s cats is named Linda. on Gericault s painting. Something distant. the case of bitumen. Bitumen occurs in three chapters. First in chapter five. it reoccurs in chapter nine.
In chapter five. Sources 8. whether intended or not. though we don t quite know why we re here. the repetition is so obvious that. . In a number of cases. History in question(s) : An interview with Julian Barnes.24 Parenthesis contains a passage which could be helpful in assessing whether the recurrent items in the novel are merely there for thematic purposes. and it seems to me as a writer. on my own behalf. or if some self-reflexive concern might be involved here: The history of the world? Just voices echoing in the dark. images that burn for a few centuries and then fade. One passage from Parenthesis can give a clue about this question. what do you think about it? . [ ] To yet others. We lie here in our hospital bed of the present (what nice clean sheets we get nowadays) with a bubble of daily news drip-fed into our arm. naturally. Maybe he was aiming at dealing with certain thematics and was not concerned with self-reflexive notions at all. Parenthesis is the part of the novel where Barnes reveals something of what he himself thinks of matters. We think we know who we are. strange links. at that point. The main question is. that it is time to say something on my own part. stories. impertinent connections. This is shown in one of Barnes answers in an interview with Vanessa Guignery: I suppose the point at which Parenthesis comes is the point at which I ve given a series of alternative narrations. And at such a point. the reader would be quite justified in saying to the writer Well. this simple butterfly was a sign. whether Barnes intended to draw attention to this artificial unity. a messenger from Heaven as white as Noah s dove (121). 65. attention is drawn to the artificiality of the unity that is found in the novel. Even if Barnes was thinking about thematics when working repetition into his novel. old stories that sometimes seem to overlap.44 has received some kind of symbolical status by human beings. Maybe this was not his concern at all. 24 Vanessa Guignery. (Orleans: Université d¶Orleans ± Editions Paradigme 2000). the men that are left on the raft are visited by a white butterfly: To some [ ] it seemed that even this could make a morsel. dislocated in time and place. the effect of it is that the novel comes across as a construction.
or not aiming at thematics as a goal in itself. impertinent connections seem to describe some of what has been dealt with in this section on narrativity. he is not just aiming at thematics. in other words. factual historical context. The narratives rather focus on the many elements that stand in the way of objective knowledge than giving hope that such knowledge exists. As is the case with other fragments from Parenthesis. signs that point toward the possibility of valid. Besides showing how unreliable human perception of evidence can be. realistic. the quoted passage seems to refer to the novel it is placed in. we keep a few true facts and spin a new story round them. And while we fret and writhe in bandaged uncertainty voluntary patient? are we a we fabulate. However. He is trying to say something about how he views history or historiography. See page 24. or. scientific research proves that the bones belong to a woman who has died about a hundred and fifty years before. In chapter nine. 26 Authenticity is hard to find in the novel.25 This means that when Barnes is inserting strange links. two minor fragments might give room for authenticity. The quotes are taken from the description of enclaves of authenticity in chapter two of this thesis. authentic historical knowledge. (242. Examples of this are: a certain hierarchy of more or less trustworthy data. italics mine) The words old stories that sometimes seem to overlap. However.45 or how long we shall be forced to stay. or references to a known. For this reason I consider it plausible that at least part of the links between the various chapters are connected to the aspect of narrativity. strange links. in the other ten chapters. for instance. We make up a story to cover the facts we don t know or can t accept. this episode provides some Other examples will be dealt with in chapter five of this thesis. Project Ararat. we call it history. Spike is convinced they have found Noah s remains. 26 25 . Enclaves of authenticity The fifth element of historiography in the making that will be examined is that of enclaves of authenticity. Our panic and pain are only eased by soothing fabulation. Spike Tiggler and his companion find human bones.
The answer could be that no absolute statements can be made on what medium has an absolute authority in the field of objective knowledge. in the novel. in chapter seven. but still. we fall into beguiling relativity. According to science. This [ ] version is a fake we must still believe that objective truth is obtainable. and survived the incident. is not only put in a positive light in this novel. We all know objective truth is not obtainable. human experience can be more of an authority than science. impossible fake [ ] But while we know this. One passage from Parenthesis renders further insight into the novel s attitude towards authentic knowledge. In the fragment from chapter nine. science can be more objective about reality than humans can be. Maybe the ambiguity of this statement explains some of the ambiguity in the fragments that were mentioned above. Here it is described that James Bartley got swallowed by a whale in 1891. Science. We must do so. (245-246. however. part two. Still. italics mine) This passage is clear about the existence of objective truth: it is not obtainable. for more practical purposes. Here. Authenticity is denied. but some room is left for alternatives. or if we can t believe this we must believe that 43 per cent objective truth is better than 41 per cent. science is overruled.46 sort of grip in the form of science. that when some event occurs we shall have a multiplicity of subjective truths which we assess and then fabulate into history [ ] some [ ] version of what a charming. . for instance. In chapter seven. most of the time. At other times. it happened. it would have been impossible for him to have survived more than a few minutes in the whale s belly (180). Sometimes. on the alternative to objective truth that Barnes puts forward. was freed by fishermen the next day. because if we don t we re lost. really happened. The question is what the status of science then is. In chapter four more will be said about the content of the above quote from pages 245 and 246. science is rebuffed by reality. it gives more security than mere human perception and insight do. people should believe in it.
The Mountain. to be discussed in the following. Amanda sees God s purposes. History as an objective existence is doubted. reflects on the constraints upon historiography. Still. For instance. and its essential goodness? The proof of this plan and this benevolence lay manifest in Nature. plans and so on.47 Self-reflexivity: History in the Making The second type of self-reflexivity that will be discussed in this chapter is that which Elisabeth Wesseling has labelled as history in the making. but having to go on some kind of pilgrimage to . the issue of history as something that is made is brought up. Amanda is presented as a woman who believes in divine intent and God s plan. His eternal design. and on page 148: Amanda discovered in the world divine intent. It is impressive to see what kind of consequences this has for her life. the aspect of narrativity focuses on the structure historians impose on history. What is difficult about searching the novel for this kind of self-reflexivity. It is quite harmless to see divine intent in the way all kinds of fruit are fit for human consumption (see pages 147 and 148). but this is rather subjective a number of times. one could say. and the second kind of self-reflexivity. To cut it very short: history in the making doubts even the basic skeleton of history. and this is very similar to history in the making. historical events. it is useful to illustrate Amanda Fergusson s way of looking at the world. In chapter six. and: How could her father have failed to recognize God. is that it is quite close to that of historiography in the making. which. by suggesting that historical events are made to happen in compliance with the same narrative conventions as those that determine the retrospective retrieval of the past. in examining Barnes novel it is sometimes hard to distinguish between the two. The aims of the two kinds of self-reflexivity are clearly separated: the first kind of self-reflexivity. in various things. To explain this. See for instance page 147: his [her father s] refusal to acknowledge the divine plan. discussed above. benevolent order and rigorous justice. focuses on the fictionality of history itself. reflects on history itself.
Miss Logan reflects on pages 167 and 168: They had been crossing a scree. The sin of the world was purged by the waters of the flood [ ] We shall fill our bottles with snow from the holy mountain. and where an ancient vine stock planted by the Patriarch s own hand was still present. according to Amanda). Somehow Amanda has become convinced that the way to save her father is to fetch grape juice from the vines in Arghuri. and they are on their way back down the mountain. because she believes it to be appropriate (149) is a different matter. This becomes even more manifest in the last section of chapter six. because the monks in Arghuri have made wine from the grapes (which tradition had forbidden. No. and it was easy to lose your bearing. in order to achieve or confirm whatever it was she wanted to achieve or confirm.48 intercede for her father s soul. and her employer had actually been standing on a flattish stretch of granite when she had fallen. and footing was difficult. We shall bring back purging water instead.27 and when this mission turns out to be a disappointment. Amanda slips and falls. (160. Sin must be purged with water. She hurts her foot. that was not it. The pure juice of Noah s vine we came in search of has been rendered impure. The question she was avoiding was whether Miss Fergusson might not have been the instrument of her own precipitation. there had been many loose stones. It is insinuated later on that Amanda had fallen on purpose. After Amanda and her companion have retrieved the water from Mount Ararat. where the issue of history in the making seems to come in. and becomes weak. It was a magnetic mountain where a compass did not work. 27 . That is the only way to salvage the journey. The place where Noah supposedly returned to his agricultural labours after the Flood . but surely at that point they had been traversing a gentler slope. she is convinced that getting snow from the Ararat will do the job: We shall ascend the mountain. italics mine) Passages like the one quoted above make one wonder about the subjective nature of Amanda s perceptions of what is appropriate or what needs to be done to intercede for her father s soul.
she considers that it is possible the Kurd had been instructed by Amanda to leave her after bringing her down the mountain safely. the last night they were with her. It is also fascinating that in this chapter. but still. It is even suggested she set up her own death. He had. she tells her companion that she and their Kurdish guide are to leave her the next day: Whether you return or not is immaterial. In chapter six it is fascinating to see what consequences deep conviction can have for someone s life. whether this relates to history in . if this issue of directing your own life is present. Miss Logan and the guide go down the mountain.49 When Amanda is still weak another day later. It may be too absolute an assertion to claim the last option. he disappears and does not return. to die there). or if it is about the opposition between a stable. when Miss Logan is on her way home (Amanda has obviously stayed behind upon the mountain. during their journey. seems to direct her own life. always executed Miss Fergusson s commands with punctiliousness and honour (167). It is never confirmed whether Amanda fell on purpose or not. whether this chapter is about what it can do to a person when he or she has certain strong beliefs or becomes lost in his or her subjective perceptions. and had spoken to Amanda in private. at least in the last section of chapter six. It can even lead to death. Another question is. Weeks later. indirectly chapter six seems to concern itself with the issue of Amanda directing her own life. The question is of course. it seems there is room for the question whether or not Amanda was directing her own life s end. or whether she instructed the guide to leave Miss Logan or not. [ ] I shall remember the Holy Scripture and wait for God s will. I cannot imagine a happier place from which to be taken unto Him (165). independent reality and creating your own reality. Accordingly. The chapter seems to focus on matters of perception and not so much on the relation between a stable and a fictional reality. and when the guide has safely brought Miss Logan to a village. a woman who believes in the divine plan. Still. On this mountain God s will is quite manifest.
50 the making. I thought it appropriate to include it in this section. However. . since it does concern part of the course of Amanda s life.
which attempts to answer the question What would have happened if . in keeping with Wesseling s use of the terms. Wesseling adds: Evidently. the counterfactual quality of Barnes book will be examined as a separate issue. as Wesseling calls them (105).51 Chapter 4 Counterfactual Conjecture and Uchronian Fiction in A History of the World in 10 ½ Chapters Having paid considerable attention to the self-reflexive aspect of A History of the World in 10 ½ Chapters. . the target of counterfactual conjecture is the reservoir of established historical facts and popular interpretations of those facts which makes up canonized history (105). Parodic texts . however. 28 . counterfactual conjecture and counterfactual fantasy point to the same phenomenon. the next step is to assess whether the novel reflects something like Uchronian Fiction. as not all Counterfactual Fiction is Uchronian. . but modified by various strategies. She explains that the development of an alternative history may be quite a rational and responsible intellectual endeavor (104). Some knowledge of the parodied text is indispensable for the recognition of its pendant within the new context of the parodic text . using a hypothetico-deductive mode of reasoning (102). and that Counterfactual conjectures are developed by way of a logical thought experiment. but with an ironic difference. She ascribes a parodic aspect to counterfactual fantasies. An author may change the target by As a reminder: the terms counterfactual fiction. Counterfactual Conjecture In her book Writing History as a Prophet Elisabeth Wesseling defines counterfactual historical fiction as fiction which deliberately departs from canonized history (Wesseling 102). First. The parodied text is not merely repeated..28 in the sense that parodic texts incorporate their target texts. recycle prefabricated textual materials.
if it is considered that Noah was a good exemplar of his kind at the time. However. the afore-mentioned elements will be used as tools: deliberately departing from canonized history. Barnes novel will now be searched for aspects of counterfactual conjecture as they are described above. Woodworm s descriptions of Noah and of the events concerning the Flood seem to defy what traditional views have held for ages. And also: parody of canonized history. the voyage on the Ark was one of hardships. such as exaggeration. Some of Woodworm s claims could be fitted into the Biblical narrative without much difficulty. by turning it upside down. Still a few negations of Biblical facts can be found. counterfactual fiction is not easy to discern. developing a narrative from the question: what would have happened if . and modification of the parodied text by various methods. Therefore. (105. for instance. In practice. for instance. and the waters were upon the earth for a hundred and fifty days? Bump that up to . and Noah is portrayed as a hysterical rogue with a drink problem (8). and counterfactual changes. or by inserting it into a strikingly new context which exposes the target in a different light. to draw this line. In Woodworm s description the selection process before entering the Ark was harsh. Woodworm also claims that his view of Noah and the traditional view are not necessarily in contradiction. does not necessarily degrade history (106). For instance on pages 4 and 5. or inserting it into a strikingly new context.52 exaggerating some of its features as in a caricature. It is hard to draw the line between adjustments for fiction s sake. 106) Another thing Wesseling points out is that counterfactual conjecture. but can coexist. All chapters will be reviewed separately. but the possible causes for those particular elements will not be discussed. turning the text upside down. Chapter one contains a narrative that seems quite counterfactual at first sight. despite its parodic aspect. In this section I will merely examine what counterfactual elements can be found in the novel. even though they disrupt the traditional interpretation of that narrative. Woodworm changes some numbers: it supposedly rained for about a year and a half instead of forty days and nights.
53 about four years. or so a faction of the Palestine Liberation Front (PLF) claimed it to be. an Italian cruise ship. The Visitors. As mentioned above. The Palestinians on board were travelling to Ashdod.30 29 30 See www.html. 29 Hijacking a cruise ship was a new tactic at the time. Chapter two. but their arms were discovered. was hijacked by Four heavily armed Palestinian terrorists. Still. they hijacked the ship. this does seem to have a counterfactual effect. is inspired by a hijack that occurred in 1985. the waters subside. the Achille Lauro. in a way. And Woodworm s filling in of gaps. On page 6 the role of the serpent in the Fall (Genesis 3) is denied. the hijack in Barnes novel seems to be a preconceived action. there is a rainbow as a sign that another Flood will never happen. popular interpretation of the Genesis narrative is disrupted. In October of that year. For instance. the basic framework of facts is left intact. Wesseling includes popular interpretations of those [established historical] facts in her definition of canonized history. There are a number of differences between the historical event and Barnes narrative. .uk/dna/h2g2/a731701. But stating that chapter one is counterfactual on the basis of these changes in data. while information tells us that the hijack of the Achille Lauro was actually unplanned. For this reason. a bird finds life on the earth.specialoperations. the basic framework of the Biblical story remains intact: Noah built the Ark. In this text. and in a state of panic and confusion.com/Images_Folder/library2/achill. but the raven who found the first olive branch (and that Noah has tampered with the facts). Woodworm claims that it was not the dove. it rains for a period. chapter one could be labelled counterfactual. adding facts. Woodworm presents his narrative with an attitude of: you all look at it this way.bbc. Thus. giving a twist to certain information. Later on in chapter one. animals are taken into the Ark.co. but it was really different. See www. Apart from changes in data as mentioned here. does not seem a solid claim to stake. everyone leaves the Ark. despite stressing at times that his view and the traditional view can coexist. as it completely disrupts the traditional views on the Biblical facts.
even though Barnes narrative is based on the Achille Lauro hijacking. the hijackers were to be flown to a safe haven in an Egyptian aircraft. This reality differs considerably from the circumstances on the Santa Euphemia. The hijackers were put on trial and convicted to prison sentences. no information was found that could indicate that a story like Franklin Hughes has actually occurred. Five of the eight terrorists are killed as well. The hijack is then ended by American Special Forces (Barnes. This last difference between the two versions is interesting. A difference in the number of casualties and a difference between an unpremeditated hijack and one that looks like it had been planned. the hijackers of the Santa Euphemia demand the release of three of their members from European prisons. while six more passengers are killed in the battle. that the Italian authorities in contravention of international law compounded this act of piracy by arresting the three freedom fighters. Whereas the Achille Lauro hijackers demanded the release of fifty Palestinians from Israeli prison. but they were forced down in Italy by the Americans. Only the circumstances were based on reality. that Britain defended America s action at the United Nations. In Barnes story.54 Another difference is. more than ten passengers are killed. and that the three men are now in prison in France and Germany (56). Thus. only one passenger. The issue here is to assess whether the differences between the historical event and Barnes account are of a counterfactual nature. 58). In the case of the Achille Lauro. Leon Klinghoffer. that in the historical event. was killed. chapter two is obviously a fictional story. During my research on the Achille Lauro event. Franklin says in his final speech: You may remember [ ] that two years ago a civilian aircraft carrying three members of the Black Thunder group was forced down by the American air force in Sicily. First of all. and the Italian authorities took them into custody. The anachronism of making the ending of the . and the authorities dealing with the Achille Lauro hijack seems to be its cause. may not convince some that chapter two is counterfactual. on the other hand it seems to be a new hijacking. It relates to the cause of the hijack in Barnes novel.
but on the other hand it differs from it in a number of ways . so for Barnes to attain parody. As for chapter two this means that the story is an alternative. or counterfactuality. at that point. italics mine) The term alternative narrations is important here. he must have had to estimate his readers knowledge of the historical event involved. Besides this. at least the ones before Parenthesis ). What could help determine whether it is counterfactual or not. so parody would not have worked with them. (Guignery 65. the reader must be aware of the original history behind the fictional story. dislocated in time and place. The story is obviously parallel to the historical event. It may very well be that not many of them remembered exactly what the cause of the Achille Lauro hijack was. chapter two seems to focus mainly on Franklin Hughes. a fictional character. and it seems to me as a writer. For an author to effect parody. In the previously quoted excerpt from the interview. In the interview with Vanessa Guignery. that it is time to say something on my own part. to canonised history. Barnes states: I suppose the point at which Parenthesis comes is the point at which I ve given a series of alternative narrations. in which Barnes does play with chronology and brings in a possibly counterfactual element. in one way or another. It is difficult for a researcher today to establish Barnes estimation of his reading public. on my own behalf. is to see if this is a case of parody. A first conclusion could then be that chapter two is mainly a fictional story based on a historical event. Still. It indicates that there is something alternative about the narratives in A History (or. Barnes does not speak about alternative history. and basing absolute claims upon a specific wording of things in an interview may not always lead to a solid statement. Barnes statement indicates that he does not regard these chapters as mere fictional adaptations of historical events or people.55 Achille Lauro hijack the cause of the Santa Euphemia hijack remains as a possible counterfactual element. or how it was ended. Barnes says some things that can be helpful in assessing the chapter s counterfactuality.
is that during Kath s earlier life a nuclear disaster took place in Russia. The questions remain: is chapter two a fictional adaptation of a historical event. it is difficult to prove that Barnes was aiming at a counterfactual narrative.56 (the location. nuclear disasters did occur in Russia before the Cuba Crisis. the actions taken by the terrorists). Anyhow. it seems Barnes was not focussing on one particular case. Historically speaking. counterfactuality does not seem like a relevant issue here. but drawing his inspiration from various cases. and is the story in itself meant to be an entirely different story than the historical one. so is it based on that historical event. One peculiar thing. one is easily led to conclude that the reference here is to the Cuba Crisis. The narrative is fictional. after chapter ten. and that it can lead to a nuclear disaster. but the element of contaminated reindeer is particularly related to the Chernobyl disaster. except for its historical background. which makes it seem quite remote from the historical event. Chapter five of this thesis.P. Whereas I have stated before that this background is the Cuba Crisis. In chapter four. Chapter three is based on legal procedures and actual cases described in The Criminal Prosecution and Capital Punishment of Animals by E. the name of the terrorist group. as part of the Cold War. instead of a new story inspired by history. which reviews the results found in this chapter and the previous one. will deal further with the counterfactuality of chapter two. According to the Author s Note . This is stated in an Author s Note which can be found in the back of the novel. or is it merely inspired by the event. to be clear. The reference. however. Evans (1906). which caused the reindeer to become contaminated. or if the crisis referred . which occurred much later than the Cuba crisis. is to an existing work. For this reason. a closer look reveals that it is never explicitly mentioned that this is the crisis referred to. It is clear that the crisis almost leads to a war. I think these are hard questions to answer at this point. the story does not clearly represent a particular historical event. The Survivor . The question then is whether a twist in chronology is implied. and because of a reference to tensions between the United States and Russia before the crisis.
it seems. Other indications are the references to contaminated reindeer in Lapland and people watching the trail of the poisonous cloud that resulted from the disaster. is the fact that it is the only one present. The nuclear disaster is specifically related to the Chernobyl disaster. 31 . Even if it were so. so it was probably something the reader remembered well at the time. The two men mentioned were among the survivors on the raft. The chronology of history is disrupted as easily as it suits the narrator. In conclusion then. if that is what it is. the anachronism described seems to mock history itself rather than the historical events the chapter is concerned with. as the event was probably not wellSee page 85: cartoonists started making jokes. counterfactuality does not seem like a relevant issue anymore.57 to is not supposed to mean the Cuba Crisis at all. this chapter could be said to contain a counterfactual element. is made recognisable for the reader. The first part of Shipwreck . about how [ ] Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer had a very shiny nose because he came from Chernobyl. If the latter option is true. it can be stated that chapter four is set against a historical background that might include references to the Cuba Crisis. Wesseling has explained that parody demands some basic knowledge of the historical event on the reader s part. but it is not made specific in the narrative. If the first option is true. It is stated in the afore-mentioned Author s Notes : The first part of chapter 5 draws its facts and language from the 1818 London translation of Savigny and Corréard s Narrative of a Voyage to Senegal. the narrative as a whole does not make a counterfactual impression. As for parody. describes a historical event. When it comes to irony. Besides. If this is indeed the crisis Barnes refers to. and it is implied that the crisis can lead to a nuclear disaster. the nuclear disaster took place only three years before Barnes novel was published. the question is if the anachronism in that setting (the Chernobyl disaster happening before the Cuba Crisis) means that the narrative is counterfactual. chapter five. As was mentioned before. It is for certain that the anachronism. the aspect of incorporating an existing text is present. It is therefore unlikely that Barnes turned the report of the eye-witnesses into a counterfactual narrative. as another aspect of parody that Wesseling mentions.31 and the crisis that almost leads to a war is related to the United States and Russia. Counterbalancing the presence of the anachronism in chapter four.
Then. Jonah. but during a voyage by boat. Jonah does go to Nineveh. Barnes states on Amanda and her companion: they didn t exist. it vomits Jonah out onto land. The Biblical narrative relates how Jonah is called by God to preach against the city of Nineveh. Jonah becomes angry at this. The next day. Part II is based on the Biblical story of Jonah. 68). on his own suggestion. This story is based on reality. Chapter seven. to tell them God will overturn the city forty days later. a violent storm arises. travels of the time (Guignery. slow to anger and abounding in love. The storm calms and Jonah is swallowed by a big fish. is thrown overboard by the sailors.4). This also applies to the second part of chapter five. on Amanda Fergusson s pilgrimage to Mount Ararat. saying that this was the reason he did not want to go to Nineveh in the first place: I knew you are a gracious and compassionate God. 66). Jonah 4. that s about me (Guignery. I made them up. When it becomes clear he is the cause for their misfortune. I obviously relied on historical documents. Jonah 1. however.58 known to all readers in the 1980s. 1982) (see the Author s note ). After three days and nights. Jonah. as Jonah sits outside of the city.2). It is not useful to start researching what the differences might be between the witness report and Barnes account. which relies heavily on Lorenz Eitner s exemplary Géricault: His life and Work (Orbis. watching it to see what will happen. Next. God makes a plant grow to give Jonah shade. accordingly. The Ninevites repent and God. Because of this background. Barnes comments on this: That simple story is completely true. is not based on one event in particular. because of its wickedness (The Holy Bible. as counterfactuality would not make a point because the reader is not familiar with the historical background. however. Chapter six. decides to spare the city. counterfactual elements are not an issue here. a God who relents from sending calamity (The Holy Bible. part I is about the young man who meets Lawrence Beesley. but in terms of what the journey was. God makes the plant die . survivor of the Titanic disaster. takes flight.
competitive and so on. Inserting various comments on Gods nature and actions. The only exception seems to be a passage on the plant that God had caused to grow for Jonah. I am angry enough to die. Barnes passage presents a somewhat illogical piece of reasoning on God s side. God makes the plant die again. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. though you did not tend it or make it grow. and the alternative explanation of the gourd story ties in with this. filled up with his or her own comments. Do you have a right to be angry about the vine? I do. the narrator expresses his view of God as being cruel. Should I not be concerned about that great city? (The Holy Bible. Barnes narrative is not so much a fictionalised account of the biblical narrative. did you. but it . its relation to art and to another account of someone eaten by a large fish. he said. The narrator relates the biblical story of Jonah. and uses the example of the plant to teach Jonah about his (God s) concern for Nineveh. and in the same way I m not going to punish Nineveh (176).9-11) Barnes text states: God s explanation [ ]: you didn t punish the gourd when it failed you. the Biblical facts are not denied. but the Biblical one is different from the one provided in Barnes text. which adds to the very negative image of God in this part of chapter seven. 11But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left. The Biblical passage states: 9 But God said to Jonah. Even though both quotes seem to come down to the fact that God cares for Nineveh. The negative image of God can also be a counterfactual element. and many cattle as well. Jonah 4. and then digs into the issue of Jonah s stay in the fish. Even though Barnes text is quite negative in its interpretation of the Jonah narrative.59 again. and an explanation for this is given. 10 But the LORD said. You have been concerned about this vine. Maybe this is the purpose of this counterfactual element. No interpretations of the Jonah story have been consulted in writing this thesis.
the contradiction between the passages on the gourd may be striking. There were 937 passengers on board. a few people excepted. Part III of chapter seven is based on a historical event. close upon their arrival in Cuba. where Charlie was . This does not rule out counterfactuality in the narrative. this narrative. however. 68). unless you are particularly a special witness of them [ ] then I think you have to be very very careful about using them in any way. were not allowed to disembark. In a way. destination Cuba. Barnes states on the narrative: I think when you get near areas like Holocaust. contradicts the traditional reading of the Jonah story. despite its respect for most of the Biblical facts. The passengers were taken up by Belgium. appeals to political and religious leaders. Upstream! is a difficult case. The Netherlands. In May 1939. Chapter eight. fleeing Nazi Germany. the passengers. but some may not even notice. They re almost sacred subjects (Guignery. After much fruitless negotiation. To those quite familiar with the Bible. In fact. The letters were written in the South-American jungle. and another attempt to land in Cuba. Barnes account of the St Louis event does not seem to contain any obvious counterfactual elements. It consists of letters written by Charlie to his girlfriend. an attempt to land in the United States. may not even notice the alternative explanation of the vine-story. The negative image of God could be labelled counterfactual. the St Louis was forced to land in Europe again. Those who are only vaguely familiar with the Jonah story. As a consequence. the ship St Louis left the harbour of Hamburg. However. negotiations with a number of South-American countries.60 seems unlikely that God has been put in such a negative light in conventional explanations of the story. The question remains whether this narrative is a counterfactual one. most of whom were Jews. Great Britain and France. they were refugees. Barnes displays a playful way of dealing with data. but it does not make major digressions of historical fact likely either. the validity of the visas of most passengers was denied.
This story involves two Jesuit priests who. the film and chapter eight have been based upon general information on Jesuit missions.com. is lost in the river and not found again. in South America. Warner Brothers. . When their mission becomes part of Portuguese territory. 1986.julianbarnes. or even explorers. the differences with Barnes narrative are major. Barnes suggests this himself. together with some Indians. some hundreds of years earlier. And. an accident occurs and Matt. had travelled upon the Orinoco on a raft. Parenthesis is a kind of monologue and it is suggested that the narrator can be identified with Barnes himself. and his co-actor Matt play the roles of two Jesuit priests in a film based on a true story. Charlie. Whether either of the two suggestions on the discussion board have anything to do with chapter eight.32 One person suggests a documentary on Spanish conquistadors who went upstream the Orinoco. Another person puts forward the film The Mission (1986). Maybe it can be said that the documentary. Roland Joffe. in a way that reminded her of Barnes chapter. dir. When the twentieth-century film crew is rehearsing for filming the event of the raft capsizing. Under discussion board see the subject of A History & history. counterfactuality is not a useful issue to discuss. It would be quite an investigation to check the facts concerning the narrator s life that are presented. and the mission is ordered closed by the pope. maybe Barnes has been inspired by the phenomenon of turning issues like this into a film. the Indians living there become the prey of Portuguese slave traders and the Jesuits are faced with the choice of how to react to this: with or without violence. two suggestions are made as to the background of chapter eight. The letters relate what happened in the jungle.33 This film is about two Jesuits in South America. Charlie s colleague. In the interview mentioned before in this chapter of my thesis. with the raft capsizing at a certain moment. The story of Charlie as well as the story that the film is about are not well-known. and it will not be done here.61 part of a film crew shooting a film there. Against such a general background. The Mission. Chapter nine is 32 33 www. On the discussion board of the Julian Barnes website.
a former astronaut who sets out to find Noah s Ark on Mount Ararat. . 35 The first date mentioned for one of his Ararat expeditions is 1982. and. and [sic] interdenominational evangelical organization [ ] The organization operates religious retreates [sic] and tours to the Holy Land. In Spike s case.net/jbirwin. it is said that his experience was one of feeling God s presence. and the focus on the Ararat expedition after the moon trip.arlingtoncemetery. it is hard to imagine Barnes draws from publicly known data. the Ararat expedition is pictured as the first main consequence of his experience on the 34 The website that mentions the episode of Irwin quoting Psalm 121 does not mention which translation of the Bible the quote was taken from. Barnes narrative is clearly a fictionalised narrative. he hears God s voice telling him to go and find Noah s Ark on Mount Ararat. 34 In chapter nine. James Irwin followed a different course. 35 See the website mentioned in footnote 34. together with reading his Bible this is what is mentioned as the action that flows from his newly found convictions. again. He resigned from the Astronaut Corps a year after his space flight and became the founding president of the High Flight Foundation. as thoughts and feelings of Spike and Betty are revealed of which. which was about ten years after his space trip. There are differences between history and Spike s story. and also of being reminded of a Bible verse from Psalm 121: I ll look into the hills from whence cometh my help. It reveals some private moments between Spike and his wife Betty of which it is hard to imagine that similar moments between Irwin and his wife are publicly known. Spike s story strongly resembles the history of James Irwin. Chapter nine deals with Spike Tiggler. One difference between Barnes narrative and Irwin s life is that Spike s story takes place about three years later than that of James Irwin. This is his basic experience of God. It seems that the Ararat expeditions were part of his religious life. Of James Irwin. See: www. Two other major differences between reality and story are the experience of God on the moon.62 based on historical data. also an astronaut who experienced God on the moon and later went on an expedition to Mount Ararat. Spike is busy raising funds for his expedition within a year s time of the space flight. An omniscient narrator is present. When Spike is on the moon.htm.
Probably most readers will not even know that chapter nine is based on history. the issue of its counterfactual aspect is irrelevant.63 moon. however. Chapter ten is about heaven. eight and nine) can clearly be proven to be counterfactual. as in previous chapters. Besides this. as it is not for certain that the flaw in chronology is actually present. Barnes himself includes them in the chapters he states are alternative narrations : I suppose the point at which Parenthesis comes is the point at which I ve given a series of alternative narrations. in which case chronology has been tampered with. though he was probably well-known for a time. The least that can be said about chapter two and eight is that. . It seems evident that Barnes deliberately strays from historical fact in the last section of chapter nine. but are still not easily labelled as counterfactual. The fictional character of the rest of the narrative. dislocated in time and place (Guignery. 65). chapter two ( The Visitors ). the reality is that most readers will not even recognise the counterfactual elements if they were there. and deviate from them as well. The crisis that takes place after Chernobyl could well be the Cuba crisis. Taking all the chapters of A History into consideration. makes one wonder whether Barnes in any way meant to present a counterfactual narrative here. Chapter four is a different case. none of the three chapters mentioned (chapters two. As the narrative is a personal story of a narrator whose identity remains obscure. Chapter seven might be counterfactual in its negative portrayal of God as opposed to the conventional ways of explaining the Jonah story. Again. The difficulty is. However. James Irwin was not a famous person. it is obvious that Julian Barnes employs a playful way of dealing with historical facts. and it is suggested that the narrative is a dream. for instance. in the interview with Vanessa Guignery. to establish whether the differences between the two versions are minor adjustments or essential contrasts. Chapter one seems the best example of counterfactuality. a number of chapters are based on historical facts. eight ( Upstream! ) and nine ( Project Ararat ). However.
This last ideal could also apply to chapter seven where the narrator depicts God as quite the opposite of what traditional explanations might say about the Jonah narrative. One of the most characteristic features of uchronian fiction. Utopian ideals that might be present are that in the future more attention will be paid to the fate of animals. and it would be interesting to see what can be found of these in Barnes book. but the question is if this envisages possibilities for the future. more will be said about the counterfactual nature of Barnes novel. or that people will employ a more balanced way of reading scripture. Woodworm presents an alternative past. an alternative present or a new future is imagined from thoughts like: what would have happened if not x but y had won the war? It has been stated above that Barnes novel as a whole is not clearly counterfactual. characteristics of uchronian fiction will be put forward and Barnes text will be examined for these characteristics. In other words. This does not mean that it has become irrelevant to examine the novel for uchronian elements. Uchronian Fiction Barnes novel contains a few counterfactual elements. is that it imagines the future from unrealised possibilities in the past.64 this cannot be proven beyond a doubt. Besides its counterfactual aspect. Uchronian fiction is a subspecies of counterfactual historical fiction (Wesseling 102). . In chapter five. Counterfactual fiction has been looked at in the previous section. uchronian fiction bears other features. Uchronian fiction has been defined as fiction which locates utopia in history by imagining an apocryphal course of events (Wesseling 102). Chapter one has been labelled as counterfactual. Next. or their importance in the world or in history. and it has become clear that Barnes novel as a whole is not a clear case of counterfactual fiction. and so it is unlikely that this feature of imagining the future from an alternative past is emphatically present in the novel in its described form. The next question to answer is whether it contains elements of uchronian fiction as well.
They are not intended to compete with official historiography for truth value.65 The flaw in chronology in chapter two which makes the ending of Achille Lauro hijack the cause of the Santa Euphemia hijack. the point of counterfactual fiction in this chapter is not that it actually happened the way Woodworm describes it. even alternative societies. This also applies to the anachronisms in chapter two and four: the ending of the factual hijacking being the cause of the hijacking in chapter two. on the voyage of the St Louis. A third characteristic of uchronian fiction. part three. This applies to chapter one. It envisages alternatives. and some critical comments are made on the reluctance of other countries to take responsibility for the fate of the Jews. For instance: winners become losers and the other way around. There are a few instances of social or political criticism in the text. is that it adopts a critical attitude towards certain political or social circumstances. Thus. Another expression of its political or social concern is a redistribution of roles. Besides illustrating the bad circumstances in Nazi Germany. For instance. The aspect of finding a new future in an alternative past is not very clearly or overtly present in Barnes novel. it would be hard to prove that the change in chronology implies some sort of hope for a new kind of future. to stake epistemological claims. Another aspect of uchronian fantasy. is that its alternative histories are clearly untrue. attention is paid to the politics (and economics) that was involved in denying the ship access to the harbour of Havana. for the future. could imply the hope that governments in the future will find different ways of dealing with terrorism. It has been pointed out before in this thesis that Woodworm s authority is undermined by his animal way of looking at things. when the narrator mentions that the St Louis was nicknamed the ship that . Still. and the Chernobyl disaster occurring before the Cuba Crisis (if that is the crisis referred to). It is obvious that these are anachronisms. One chapter that puts forward political issues is chapter seven.
the government allows meat to be sold that contains far too much radioactivity. They might think about it. but we ve been punishing animals from the beginning. She is critical of governments as well. apparently. it is still not a solid claim to stake that the novel bears a socially and/or politically critical mark. for instance in the case of a Hebrew legend that claims Noah obtained the concept of fermenting grapes from seeing a goat get drunk on fermented grapes (29). At Doctor s Gully. of the criticism that chapter one and four utter concerning the relationship between man and animal. Look what we ve done to the reindeer. where she takes the boat. Why are we always punishing animals? We pretend we like them. She is upset about the radioactive reindeer being fed to the mink instead of being buried: I think they should have buried them. at least. Kath thinks: nobody stops to think about the world any more. 36 Money was a major aspect of the admission of the refugees to Cuba. Having presented these fragments from the text. Kath is quite critical about various aspects of society. Nowadays even fish are exploited. did not feel its shame so strongly that it moved its hand to its wallet (185). they d say as they dug the pit. Woodworm also portrays people as blaming animals. however. haven t we? Killing them and torturing them and throwing our guilt on them? (86. Or they might. One of Kath s concerns is how people treat animals.36 In chapter four. . The weakness. and people have to pay to watch them be fed. We live in a world where they make children pay to see the fish eat. Another aspect of chapter four is interesting concerning a critical attitude. fish are fed daily.66 shamed the world when it lay in the Havana harbour. we keep them as pets and get soppy if we think they re reacting like us. in which the human beings do not treat the animals well. Burying things gives you a proper sense of shame. 87) This last quote ties in with chapter one. it is said: The world. is that it is uttered by individuals who do not come across as utterly trustworthy: a woodworm and a woman who is psychologically unstable. she thought (91). After the nuclear disaster that caused poisoned reindeer meat.
On page 53 I have explained that Barnes relied on historical documents for writing chapter six. Charlie expresses that the tribe had been lost for a few hundred years. The tribe of Indians in chapter eight. The tribe is clearly not of world historical importance. is that it is strongly related to chapter nine. versions of history reflect political interests and function as instruments of power. though fictional. for instance by showing that power play went into the making of . and the subjectivity of historiography is explained in political terms. The case with chapter six. For instance. those documents are not of world historical importance to most people. some major political crisis). it is obvious that the human race does not get off unscathed. and chose the subject matter for chapter six accordingly. however. Chapter four is set against the background of the Cuba Crisis (or at least. it is interested in those who did not make the records. and especially reindeer. even if historical documents were the source for Amanda s story. until they were rediscovered by the film s researchers. A final issue in uchronian fiction is the connection between history and power. The same can be said for people like Amanda Fergusson in chapter six.67 Still. after the feat with the two Jesuit missionaries. Kath herself expresses a concern for the losers in her world: animals. Maybe Barnes just needed another Ararat story for thematic purposes. on Spike Tiggler. The subjective origins of sources are pointed out. Charlie wonders if they will disappear again after the film has been shot. is an example of people that are forgotten by world history. who is modelled on a more famous person. or be wiped out by some disease. Upstream . individual. An other aspect of uchronian fiction is that it concerns itself with those who lost in history. and it is sometimes criticised considerably. but it does not focus on those who are politically important. likewise. rather than with those who won or were successful. Instead it focuses on a politically unimportant. or who were relegated to insignificance in the records (Wesseling viii). Also. Still. It is not exactly clear whether these documents actually speak of Ararat expeditions.
Bonapartists attacked Monarchists. incidentally. . (127) Somewhere among the narrator s suggestions. He explains this as follows: The Medusa was a shipwreck. had found the olive tree. Woodworm claims that Noah thought it more appropriate to state that the dove. he comments on the title of Géricault s painting: The title of The Raft of the Medusa . had been malingering. Chapter five enters upon the relation between the shipwreck of the Medusa and Géricault s painting of it. the narrator points out that Géricault did not paint the Medusa striking the reef ( 126). The behaviour of the frigate s captain37 illuminated a) the incompetence and corruption of the Royalist Navy. this passage illustrates how those in power rewrite history according to their liking.68 the historical records. In part two. I need hardly add. the Fall is described as Adam s black propaganda . The painting was listed in the Salon catalogue as Scène de Naufrage Scene of Shipwreck . which also suggests tampering with historical facts by humans. But it s equally a useful instruction to the spectator: this 37 He had discarded advice from his crew. is not The Raft of the Medusa . and concludes from this that Géricault s first concern was not to be [ ] political (127). the narrator mentions a number of aspects of the shipwrecking that Géricault did not paint. In chapter one. The raven. instead of returning as soon as possible with evidence of dry land. felt hurt and betrayed at this instant rewriting of history. and makes suggestions as to what Géricault s concerns were in painting this canvas. a news story and a painting. rather than the raven. Page 25 states : Noah had it put about that the raven. A cautious political move? Perhaps. b) the general callousness of the ruling class towards those beneath them. Together with the image painted of Noah and his family throughout chapter one. and had been spotted (by whose eye? not even the upwardly mobile dove would have demeaned herself with such a slander) gourmandising on carrion. On page six. For instance. Parallels with the ship of state running aground would have been both obvious and heavy-handed. it was also a cause.
Either way. the narrator points to the fact that representations of history can become politically charged. It is questionable whether the title of Géricault was actually a political move. . not history and historiography. However. elements that may have little to do with uchronian fiction.69 is a painting. it has to be stressed that the chapter focusses on the relation between history and art. and that this influences the creative process. it is possible that Géricault was indeed trying to keep his work of art from being read as an opinion. However. The question remains whether this means that the novel. not an opinion (129). while it cannot be denied that the narrator points at the relationship between politics and representation of history. does carry some characteristics of uchronian fiction. This section on uchronian fiction has shown that aspects of uchronian fiction are definitely present in the novel. or if the found results are expressions of other concerns. This will be looked at in the next chapter. despite the fact that it is not clearly counterfactual.
which is the ultimate question to be answered in this thesis. However. but only one example was found. Finally. The question is. as uchronian fiction is a subdivision of counterfactual fiction. First attention will be devoted to the self-reflexive nature of the novel and the uchronian nature of the novel. in this order. History in the making is present as well. will be discussed to provide further insight into the issues that Barnes novel is concerned with. the half-chapter. Uchronian Fiction or Self-reflexivity The first issue to be discussed in this chapter is the self-reflexive nature of Barnes novel. The structure of this chapter will be the following. and that for this reason efforts would be made to find more than one 38 Counterfactual fiction and uchronian fiction will no longer be mentioned separately from now on. Several characteristics of historiography in the making can be found in the novel. Parenthesis . in a way.70 Chapter 5 Reviewing the Results Chapters four and five have produced a body of information on what characteristics of selfreflexivity and uchronian fiction38 can be found in A History of the World in 10 ½ Chapters. whenever a text is uchronian. conclusions will be drawn as to if and how the novel matches Wesseling s descriptions of the postmodernist historical novel. is a postmodernist historical novel as Elisabeth Wesseling has defined it. in chapter six where Amanda Fergusson is shown to direct her own life. whether the novel can be labelled as self-reflexive on the basis of these results. Another question. It has been stated before that the various chapters of the novel differ in a number of ways and that the novel is not a whole. according to the information from chapters four and five. It has become clear in chapter three that A History contains a number of self-reflexive elements. . Having discussed these issues. One of the next questions to be answered is what this information actually says about the self-reflexive or uchronian quality of Barnes novel. this implies that it is counterfactual as well. is whether the novel.
Its utopian ideal would then be that western governments will find different ways of dealing with terrorism. the anachronism of Chernobyl taking place before the Cuba Crisis. The second issue of importance is whether Barnes novel can be considered as uchronian fiction. or involvement in an emancipative cause. In that way. . For some characteristics this proved possible. 39 For instance. the suffering endured on the Ark. the novel is akin to uchronian fiction. Still. which is the case in uchronian fiction as well. 40 In this section I have left out the example from chapter four. especially in chapter one. In that way. I consider the examples that were found sufficient to state that self-reflexive issues play a major role in the novel. some counterfactuality is present in the novel. by his descriptions of relations between animals. Chapter seven presents the narrative of Jonah as quite different from traditional interpretations of the biblical passage. as I did not think it a very clear example of counterfactuality. in other cases it did not.39 and of their own species as well. In a way chapter one could even be said to contain a utopian aspect: Woodworm s version of matters might cause people to develop a new view of the animal kingdom. The Stowaway. Other somewhat counterfactual elements could be found in chapter seven. uchronian fiction usually expresses some kind of hope for the future. It has been argued in chapter four that the counterfactual elements in Barnes novel do not try to compete with historiography. But it is questionable whether this a utopian ideal. The aim would then be that in the future people will consider this bible passage in a more balanced way. To abstract a utopian ideal from this alternative version could be somewhat farfetched. the disruptive move could express a concern for what the western policies on terrorism could effect in the end: more terrorism. As was shown in chapter four. the cruelty of selection before embarkation. the change in chronology could be an expression of political criticism.71 example of each feature of self-reflexivity. some criticism of politics is uttered. it might influence people s behaviour towards animals for the better in the future. One possibility could be that the narrator tries to provide some counterbalance to traditional interpretations of the Jonah narrative that put God in a positive light.40 Also. In the case of the Santa Euphemia narrative. Also. At the very least.
which indeed connects the novel to the trend (uchronian fiction) that Wesseling has described. However. Barnes indicates that there is something alternative about the narratives in A History (or. or counterfactuality. on my own behalf. which could also be the motivation for picking out or inventing certain characters. that it is time to say something on my own part. He states: I suppose the point at which Parenthesis comes is the point at which I ve given a series of alternative narrations. it is difficult to label A History as a uchronian novel. Barnes does not say alternative history. And at such a point. Barnes says some things that can help determine whether his novel is self-reflexive or uchronian in nature. does come quite close to being uchronian. dislocated in time and place. the reader would be quite justified in saying to the writer Well. The above quoted words on Parenthesis are succeeded by the following passage: . 65) This passage has been quoted previously in this thesis. Considering these results. some other uchronian aspects seem present. As was said before. The connection between history and power is exposed in the novel. The Stowaway . In the interview with Vanessa Guignery that was mentioned before. Still. It is counterfactual and it draws attention to the relation between power and historiography. at that point. what do you think about it? . It is known that Barnes was looking for thematic unity. and basing absolute claims upon a particular wording of things in an interview may not be the wisest thing to do. But it is difficult to prove that this is an expression of concern with the losers in history or historiography. Chapter one. A History focuses on unimportant individuals a number of times. and it seems to me as a writer. though not many times. at least the ones before Parenthesis). Besides this.72 Besides this. (Guignery. the quote makes clear that Barnes does not regard the chapters referred to as mere fictional adaptations of historical data. to state that Barnes novel is uchronian fiction seems like going too far.
It could mean trying to damage traditional history s credibility. It could mean merely mocking traditional history with alternative representations of the past. but it s also against part of what the book has already been doing. It s saying: It s no good just lying back and saying Well. A History clearly bears self-reflexive characteristics. but some uchronian aspects are present as well. It could also mean exposing the conventions of traditional history. however.73 So. (Guignery. which is undermining traditional history. This seems to confirm the assessment that he does not see these chapters as mere fictional adaptations of historical material. I think this is the case. as for factual accuracy. The question still remains whether A History of the World in 10 ½ Chapters can be labelled as self-reflexive or uchronian fiction. that part [ Parenthesis ] is mainly about love and truth. while some counterfactual parodies incidentally alter canonized history in ways which seem to make an epistemological rather than a political point. what exactly Barnes means with undermining. at least those preceding Parenthesis. At this point it is useful to state that Elisabeth Wesseling has explained that self-reflexivity and uchronian fiction are not always clearly separable in literature. as undermining traditional history. we ll never work it out and it s no good saying Of course we understand history. or casting doubt upon traditional history by showing there might be other sides to the stories usually told. One chapter in particular that is helpful in . She mentions on page 114 of her book that some self-reflexive novels occasionally address the political implications of historical research and narration. The question is. whatever. I think that most of these options apply to the novel. 65) The first important issue in this passage is that Barnes labels his chapters. Maybe it is not necessary to try and distinguish whether Barnes novel is self-reflexive or uchronian fiction. It might be a mixture of the two. all we have to do is apply the following theories or the following scientific principles or Marxist ideology. and that Barnes has tried to rob traditional history of the exclusive authority concerning historical truth.
which has not yet received much attention in this thesis. 41 . what do you think about it? (Guignery. The first few paragraphs of this section on Parenthesis will focus on what issues are dealt with in this half chapter. for convenience s sake. and it is also suggested that the narrator could be identified as Barnes himself. While discussing this chapter of the novel. the use of the phrase I love you. the narrator puts forward various issues related to love. the narrator claims he can tell us why to love: Because the history of the world. is ridiculous without it. The first issue dealt with is love. See the quote on page 67. Parenthesis reflects some of Barnes own thoughts on a number of issues. 43 Before this passage. 240). It will be discussed in the next section. such as love and literature. and the nature of love (how did it come into existence. the point after having given a series of alternative narrations. what does it effect). Later on these issues will be commented on. assume that the narrator is male. Taking his own relationship42 as a starting point. dislocated in time and place. Finally. namely that Parenthesis is at the point where it is time to say something on my own part. 42 As the narrator s partner is a female. but it will do something much more important: teach us to stand up to history. the narrator has drawn a comparison between love and half-houses (Barnes. (240) That is. Parenthesis Parenthesis is the half chapter. Parenthesis is a monologue on various issues. on my own behalf.74 determining what Barnes novel is all about is Parenthesis. which only stops at the half-house of love43 to bulldoze it into rubble. it is important to remember what Barnes has stated in the interview with Vanessa Guignery. I shall. 65). to ignore its chin-out strut. The history of the world becomes brutally self-important without love [ ] Love won t change the history of the world [ ].41 the reader would be quite justified in saying to the writer Well. And at such a point.
This passage is about historiography. the readers of history. with paint applied by decorator s roller rather than camel-hair brush. In the next paragraph of Parenthesis the narrator says that love makes people tell the truth.75 Here. The next quote is from page 242: History isn t what happened. meaning. right. Next. One good story leads to another. History is compared to a bulldozer. we scan the pattern for hopeful conclusions. tells an interesting story about Columbus return. for Columbus discovery of the New World (241). it seems to say. it is what historians tell us. a complex narrative. Having stated the above-mentioned things on love and history. conversation pieces whose participants we can easily reimagine back into life. Love saves history from self-importance and defends us against history. attention is paid to . And we. The sailor supposedly moved to Morocco and became a renegade. right. pick em up there you miserable shower. always going forward (241). Next. when all the time it s more like a multi-media collage. and is something we have to stand up to. but all the time it s connections. and he. First it was kings and archbishops [ ]. What people regard as history. history and love are presented as opposed to one another. this happened because of this. then little local events which mean something bigger. the march of democracy. a flow of events. There was a pattern. the narrator states: We get scared by history. it is a tapestry. is not the same as what really happened. this led to this. indeed. how an ordinary sailor had been the first one to sight the New World. History is just what historians tell us. The narrator then states that the date 1492 is always remembered. the narrator has more to say. expansion. a plan. They bawl at us left. for the way ahead. left. then it was the march of ideas and the movements of masses. And we cling to history as a series of salon pictures. a movement. the sufferers from history. but that Columbus was awarded the prize for this achievement. progress. but that 1493 is just as interesting. They want to make us think we re always progressing. we allow ourselves to be bullied by dates [ ] Dates don t tell the truth. connected. explicable.
Thus. impertinent connections: this looks like a description of the novel as a whole. stories. which is one of the concerns of historiography in the making. she claims she left her boyfriend because of the war that had started (or Some of these connections were described in chapter three of this thesis. strange links. Stories that seem to overlap. movement and so on. The Survivor. is told that she fabulates: the technical term is fabulation. impertinent connections. especially the connections between the chapters.44 The image of a patient in bed. We make up a story to cover the facts we don t know or can t accept. This specifically touches upon narrativity. In Kath s case fabulation means that. or how long we shall be forced to stay. with a drip in the arm. And while we fret and writhe in bandaged uncertainty voluntary patient? are we a we fabulate. though we don t quite know why we re here. The drip in her arm is mentioned a few times. Besides this. strange links. we call it history. under narrativity (historiography in the making). We lie here in our hospital bed of the present (what nice clean sheets we get nowadays) with a bubble of daily news drip-fed into our arm. We think we know who we are. You make up a story to cover the facts you don t know or can t accept. the above quote seems to confirm the conclusion that the novel is concerned with self-reflexivity. images that burn for a few centuries and then fade. for instance. 44 . is reminiscent of chapter four. old stories that sometimes seem to overlap. (242) One of the remarkable things of this passage is that it seems to hint at aspects of Barnes own novel. who suffers from psychosomatic symptoms. The above quote is followed by another meaningful paragraph: The history of the world? Just voices echoing in the dark. we keep a few true facts and spin a new story round them. Kath. You keep a few true facts and spin a new story round them (109). Part of this chapter takes place in some kind of hospital where Kath Ferris is being treated for her psychological problems. Our panic and pain are only eased by soothing fabulation. in a way that most people do not. Fabulation is also mentioned in the above quote.76 the structures that historiography has imposed on history: patterns. Kath is the kind of person who sees connections between all kinds of things.
we must still believe in it. strange links. or if we can t believe this we must believe that 43 per cent objective truth is better than 41 per cent. a comparison is drawn with objective truth : We all know objective truth is not obtainable. the narrator continues to speak on love. or somewhat of a man-made construction. Even then. and that we can believe this. or we must believe that it is 99 per cent obtainable. that when some event occurs we shall have a multiplicity of subjective truths which we assess and then fabulate into history (245). If we don t. And we mistake our fabulation for history. At a certain point she starts living in a new story of her own. he claims that love is our only hope. The history of the world is described as: voices echoing in the dark. We must believe in it. we fall into beguiling relativity. The second quote from page 242. she was found and admitted to hospital. The second half of the quote given above is somewhat clearer in its focus. what people usually call history is a kind of mixture of various elements. while denying this had anything to do with the state their relationship was in. or we may obtain it and find it renders us unhappy. or we re lost. impertinent connections. some of its effects. we admit that the victor has the right not just to the spoils but also to the truth [ ] And so it is with love. does not clearly focus on historiography. then we merely surrender to the . because if we don t we re lost. It stresses that fabulation is something we all do. We may not obtain it. we throw up our hands at the puzzle of it all. Next. stories. After the quoted paragraph. unlike the first one from that page. It is not explicitly stated whether this is history as presented by historians. or the way all people deal with history. its nature. namely of being on a boat and landing on a deserted island.77 so she thought it had). While leaving on a boat was what she actually did. This paragraph of Parenthesis seems to express that. she continued living in her own story and confused her moments of contact with the real world with nightmares. we value one liar s version as much as another liar s. while knowing it is likely to cause unhappiness in the short or long run. images that burn for a few centuries and then fade. At a certain point. But the narrator later adds to this: we must still believe that objective truth is obtainable. old stories [ ]. thus focussing on historiography.
is not uchronian at all. It must be said that the way these matters are dealt with here is not very uchronian-like. Another example is that the narrator claims that love is a starting-point for civic virtue. it is useful to start assessing what this information says about the nature of the novel. The recommended solution for these problems. You can t love someone without imaginative sympathy. as was also stated in the section on uchronian fiction in chapter four. Dates do not tell the truth. having presented much of the contents of the half chapter. Show me the tyrants who have been great lovers. History becomes ridiculous and self-important without love. (243) Some more comments on the relation between politics and love follow this passage. images. History is not what happened. including their narrative techniques. and in foregrounding love as the answer to most of these issues. and belief in objective truth. namely (belief in) love. Some of the issues touched upon are related to politics or society. History is made out of echoes. (245-46) Love and truth have something in common: we must believe in them. stories. but that s not what I mean). even. for instance in the direct approach to these issues. without beginning to see the world from another point of view. or a good politician without this capacity (you can get away with it. despite their weaknesses. You can t be a good lover. connections. despite their downsides. Some of it could be identified with self-reflexivity. the way people use or misuse the phrase I love you. We are scared by history and are bullied by dates. it is suggested. Most of these issues have to do with self-reflexive issues rather than with politics or society. Passages like these confirm that the novel is concerned with matters concerning society and politics. At this point. but what historians tell us.78 history of the world and to someone else s truth. a good artist. For instance. Much of Parenthesis focuses on the problems that surround what is called history. Fabulation is mistaken for history. Believing in objective . to something like tyranny.
and that we have been given free will in order that we might choose between them. that there were two explanations for everything. That is why we have been given free will. which in my opinion is not characteristic of either uchronian fiction or self-reflexivity. even if it is only partially obtainable. the narrator comments on the story of Jonah: there s a crippling lack of free will around or even the illusion of free will (176). his own dream. Everything he desires is there in It is suggested that the chapter relates a dream. This dilemma was to preoccupy Miss Logan for years to come (168). Amanda s companion. that each required the exercise of faith. when they first stood before the haloed mountain. we must still go on believing in it. whether it was an accident or caused to happen on purpose by Amanda herself? It is then stated: Miss Fergusson had maintained. What is striking about his portrayal of heaven is that it totally revolves around his own wishes and desires. [W]hen love fails us. 45 . It s the oldest dream of all. On page 246. The solution of believing in love. but in an ambiguous way. One chapter that focuses particularly on free will is chapter ten.79 truth. just as we must believe in free will and objective truth. At the end of the chapter this issue reoccurs. Still we must believe in love. part II. is a new element. Amanda Fergusson declares to her companion: There always appear to be two explanations of everything. The chapter starts with: I dreamt that I woke up. on the other hand. In chapter six. Free will is mentioned in other chapters as well. Miss Logan. Is it encoded in every molecule that [ ] love will fail? Perhaps it is. is the fact that God is the one in control. In chapter seven. This chapter presents a dream about heaven. in order that we may choose the correct one (154). It is even reminiscent of the feature of enclaves of authenticity that was discussed in the section on historiography in the making . and accordingly there is no room for free will. and I ve just had it. What the narrator aims at.45 The character this chapter focuses on tells the reader about this dream. does seem like something that a self-reflexive novel could come up with. is struggling with her doubts concerning the nature of Amanda s fall on the mountain. I dreamt that I woke up (283). the narrator slips in a (for Parenthesis ) new element: we must also believe in free will. The Dream.
cease to exist. notes: We ve got free will sorted out here. This is quite an complicated matter.80 exactly the way he likes it to be. You can t become someone else without stopping being who you are. Over many thousands of years. After a while you simply want to run again (308). Heaven is how he wants heaven to be. last shorter. When the I asks Margaret how many people choose to die off. Margaret explains that one person who tried out being someone who never tires of eternity. There are varieties as to how long it takes people to come to that point where they want it to end. At some point all people will want an end to heaven. or other absolutes that apply to the narrator s heaven. The main character thinks he might know an answer to the problem of wanting to die off in the end: wanting to be someone who never gets tired of eternity (308). as you may have noticed (304). of course. and everything he wishes for happens. some of these exceptions could be explained by the fact that somehow they were part of the main character s desires. 46 . It seems that getting what you want. Writers and painters. Because of the set-up of chapter ten. calculated by old time. at some point has been enough. said that it was changing from being a runner to being a perpetual motion machine. Nobody can bear that (308). But yes. Besides the question whether this is a plausible image of what it would be like to be Some things that are mentioned in chapter ten seem to be exceptions to this rule. when the main character is disappointed.46 What is striking in the story of chapter ten. The main rule is that heaven is what one wants it to be. which is made explicit several times. everyone takes the option. For example. Margaret. is that it becomes clear that every person there will eventually opt to die off . but that there seems to be a logical difficulty. One may enjoy it for ages. or. on the other hand. endlessly. a hundred per cent. Stalin and the like. namely that heaven is how the narrator wants it to be. Naturally. sooner or later (305). but in the end it cannot satisfy people without end. the main character s assistant. or when things happen he does not expect. For instance. sad or worried. it is hard to distinguish any facts or rules. lawyers and scholarly people last long. Margaret explains that it has been tried before. meaning also Hitler. Another peculiar aspect is that everyone is there. she answers: Oh. when they have had enough. in other words. It is also somewhat strange that the character s assistant supposedly suffers from a heart condition (291). On page 304. of course.
They can keep it up for ages. but not for us. It s nothing to be ashamed of. or something you would not ask for if you knew what it was like. We don t like to influence conclusions [ ] However. it s a perfect idea you could say. but not forever. perhaps she was being professional. So what s it all for? Why do we have Heaven? Why do we have these dreams of Heaven? She didn t seem willing to answer. she suggested. The question is why the narrator presents it as something so important. Free will is an issue in several chapters and in Parenthesis it is mentioned as something we should believe in. according the above quoted passage. And it has become obvious that such a place cannot satisfy people endlessly. Not that this means it is not enjoyable. in which the I is the first one to speak. Perhaps because you need them. (309) Chapter ten seems like a thought-experiment about what heaven would look like if free will was the general rule.47 it is interesting that becoming someone who never gets tired of eternity is not pleasant in heaven. Go on. It seems that there can be a catch to having a world where all your wishes are fulfilled. It seems to me. but I pressed her. getting what you want all the time is very close to not getting what you want all the time. One suggestion: free will seems somewhat opposed to history as an objective 47 Can being someone else than before be unbearable if indeed you have become someone else? . These are present in the quote below. It had all been very pleasant [ ] After a while. It seems quite normal to me. give me some ideas. In the same conversation between the I and Margaret some other interesting remarks are made. Because you can t get by without the dream.81 someone who never gets tired of eternity. I went on. just as we should believe in love and objective truth (which also have catches to them). you might not ask for it. that Heaven s a very good idea. Oh. Though I suppose if you knew about Heaven beforehand. Not given the way we are. I don t know about that. I can certainly see your point of view.
work variations. we must still believe in it. because if we don t we re lost. though. in a way that is reminiscent of a passage in Wesseling s book. is the idea of history being an objective process. with some kind of structure in it. So if some stories start throwing their weight around. we admit that the victor has the right not just to the spoils but also to the truth. other interpretations. Coover argues. There are always other plots. other settings. On page 144. (Mc Caffery 1983: 68) . History is not an independent phenomenon that heads in a certain direction (see the quote on pages 70 and 71). If we don t then we merely surrender to the history of the world and to someone else s truth (246). Belief in love and belief in truth are presented as weapons: against relativity.82 process. It is said that we should believe in objective truth. I like to undermine their authority a bit. are merely artifices that is. they are always in some ways false. or we may obtain it and find it renders us unhappy. despite the fact that only a percentage of it is obtainable. we throw up our hands at the puzzle of it all. Two more aspects of Parenthesis will be discussed in detail. A similar remark is made on love: We must believe in it [love]. Wesseling states the following: Stories are an indispensable means for orienting ourselves in a confusing and chaotic world. The narrator thinks there is a danger in not believing in love and truth. we fall into beguiling relativity. call attention to their fictional natures. on Robert Coover. then. We may not obtain it. surrendering to other people s versions of history or truth and the history of the world. One of the things Barnes novel pays critical attention to. a writer. or at best incomplete. but when one of them gains a monopoly it becomes dangerous: All of them [stories]. The reasons that are given for this are quite interesting. is in accordance with this. we value one liar s version as much as another liar s. The first aspect concerns the effects of not believing in love and truth that are mentioned. On pages 245 and 246 the narrator of Parenthesis explains that people should believe in love and objective truth. Stressing free will. or we re lost.
Our attitude towards history is of importance to society and is relevant to politics. the danger has to do with the fact that versions can be those of a liar or the victor (246). Versions of history reflecting political interests. the text says. This is why we should believe in objective truth and in love. Where literature and literary theory are concerned. The phrase is also reminiscent of the uchronian characteristic of foregrounding the relationship between history and power. which points out that the historical records focus on the politically successful. this shift in world . meliorative views on the course of the historical process (111). there is a danger to allowing one story a monopoly to the truth. It is reminiscent of the self-reflexive feature of political selectivity. Finally. since it is a political term. because it has a political ring to it. which then translates into a demise of straightforward projection of utopian ideals into the future as well (111). or functioning as instruments of power: these issues could become relevant in a situation where the victor gains the right to the truth. and is reminiscent of a self-reflexive as well as a uchronian feature. In short it can be said that the passages on page 246 of A History point out that relativity could lead to a situation where the versions of the wrong people are accepted. Wesseling explains on pages 111 and 112 of her book that Uchronian fantasy speculates about the future by way of a detour through the past. which seems significant. counterfactual fantasy complies with the emphasis which contemporary social sciences and philosophy place on the extent to which the individual subject is determined by linguistic and languagelike social conventions. The phrase victor is of interest here. Among the wrong people is the victor. In the quote from A History. It does matter to which version you attribute credibility. On page 112 Wesseling says: Moreover. This could happen again if we allow the victor s version to triumph over other versions. This to me seems akin to uchronian thought. it is interesting to mention that the form of a dream in chapter ten may be significant as well.83 In other words. This has to do with the demise of progressivist.
84 view has instigated a reorientation toward esthetic concepts such as invention . Elisabeth Wesseling has explained that some postmodernist historical novels are characterised by self-reflexivity. Some aspects of uchronian fiction seem to be present as well. but the self-reflexive aspect of the novel is more dominantly present. It may be significant that Barnes has used the form of a dream to reflect this place. just like the authors of uchronian fiction. He has not naively tried to imagine a world where free will has been sorted out better than in the here and now. Some characteristics of uchronian fiction are present as well. based on the examples from the text and the statements that are made in Parenthesis. Barnes is aware of the inability of man to create a better society in the future. . the novel as a whole could not be labelled as uchronian fiction. and Barnes novel can evidently be linked up to this trend. Maybe this means that. originality . which in this case would be a world where free will has been worked out better. the novel is characterised by a self-reflexive focus. Still. In conclusion it can be said that. (112) Chapter ten presents a place where free will has been sorted out (304). the imaginative anticipation of the future which attempts to raise itself above extant social conventions has ceased to convince us. autonomy [ ] Consequently.
Also. However. In the twentieth century. It questions the very existence of the res gestae as an independent level of historical discourse (Wesseling 120). Major anachronisms or clashes with historical records were avoided. like previous authors had done). Scott has influenced the genre of the historical novel for a considerable period of time. Postmodernist novelists [«] depart from the traditional historical novel by inventing alternate 48 res gestae refers to the subject matter of historiography: the deeds performed in the past (as opposed to the historia rerum gestarum. In Postmodernism. the postmodernists have dealt with history in a different way than their classical and modernist predecessors had. Characteristic of the classical historical novel were the descriptions of the couleur locale. the narratives about those deeds). but of history itself. things looked quite different in the twentieth century. IV and V of her book. The information from these chapters has been presented in chapter two of this thesis. a new kind of self-reflexivity appears. The historical novel was not very much in fashion with the Modernists. Because of the rise of historicism and developments in the field of the philosophy of history.85 Conclusion In chapter 1 of her book. selfreflexivity is continued. Writing History as a Prophet. Wesseling has illustrated classical and modernist historical fiction in chapters III. Authors of the historical novel in the way of Scott also ascribed a certain didactic aspect to their fiction. and worked this element into the narratives of their novels (instead of restricting it to prefaces and so on. . Characteristic of Sir Walter Scott s novels was the complementary position it took up towards historiography. which does not reflect upon the making of historiography. his influence on historical fiction is gone. Elisabeth Wesseling has stated that the predominance of historical subject matter in postmodernist fiction can be regarded as something of a revival for the historical novel (2). but still some renewal of the genre took place.48 Besides this. Modernists introduced self-reflexivity.
This novel consists of ten and a ³half´ chapters. Wesseling has mentioned certain characteristics of both types of fiction. To label the novel as uchronian is a far more difficult venture. which produces a form of narrative fiction one could call ³uchronian. In chapters three and four of this thesis. the characteristics of postmodernist historical fiction have been ³tried out´ on a novel from 1989. This last element explains peculiar reoccurrences of certain items. Besides employing a playful way of dealing with historical data. All in all. The novel displays a concern with self-reflexive issues such as the exposure of partial historical knowledge and narrativity. if«?´). which focus on groups of people who have been relegated to insignificance by official history. and deals with world history. . It has been interesting to find that this novel is quite concerned with self-reflexive issues. but also differ from the historical data.The counterfactual nature of Barnes¶ novel is a less straightforward issue. These apocryphal histories inject the utopian potential of science fiction into the generic model of the historical novel. Julian Barnes¶ A History of the World in 10 ½ Chapters. these differences between historical records and Barnes¶ narratives are not easily labelled counterfactual either.86 versions of history. but not in a conventional way. unrealized possibilities that lie dormant in certain historical situations are brought to our attention (³What would have happened.´ In the course of describing self-reflexive and uchronian historical fiction. such as woodworms or bitumen. Barnes also pays attention to the relationship between history and power. In this way. And still. A number of chapters convey narratives that are linked to historical data. the novel can be seen as characterised by self-reflexivity.
Hans.specialoperations. Bertens. Douwe Fokkema and Hans Bertens. A History of the World in 10 ½ Chapters. Amsterdam: Benjamins. 2000. Het Postmodernisme in de Literatuur. International Special Operations and Counterterrorist Operations. London and Basingstoke: Picador. Special Operations.html > Barnes. 8th May 2002.uk 2005. J. 1988. the Universe and Everything. 1990. In Approaching Postmodernism: Papers Presented at a Workshop on Postmodernism. Hans.co.com/Images_Folder/library2/achille. The Postmodern Weltanschauung and its Relation with Modernism: An Introductory Survey. Danny B.uk/dna/h2g2/a731701 > Bertens. Ed. < http://www.bbc.87 References Achille Lauro Hijacking Mediterranean Sea October 1985. Boomgaard and Sebastián López. Het Postmodernisme in de Literatuur. Julian. Bertens. Amsterdam: Synthese. Bels. February 2001. Ed. A Hijack on the High Seas Part Two. . Hans and Theo D haen. Van het Postmodernisme. bbc. < http://www. 19982002.Com. Amsterdam: SUA. 1986. h2g2: The Guide to Life.co. 21-23 September 1984. 1985. Ed. De Kunstreeks.
Grand Rapids.julianbarnes. .com > The Holy Bible. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company. 1991. New International Version.88 Guignery. and also available at www. printemps 2000. Writing History as a Prophet: Postmodernist Innovations of the Historical Novel.com. 1984.paradigme.julianbarnes. History in Question(s) : An Interview with Julian Barnes. Sources 8. Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House. Vanessa. < http://www. Obtained via www. Wesseling Elisabeth.com.
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