Chapter 4. Part IV: What Happened to History?

  1. Patrick O'Donnell

Published Online: 15 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9781444317893.ch4

The American Novel Now: Reading Contemporary American Fiction Since 1980

The American Novel Now: Reading Contemporary American Fiction Since 1980

How to Cite

O'Donnell, P. (2010) Part IV: What Happened to History?, in The American Novel Now: Reading Contemporary American Fiction Since 1980, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444317893.ch4

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 JAN 2010
  2. Published Print: 15 JAN 2010

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781405167574

Online ISBN: 9781444317893

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Keywords:

  • What Happened to History;
  • the novel, has always - both imitated and parodied writing of history;
  • Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe (1719) - first novel in English, on “real-life” adventures of a castaway;
  • “new historicism” and “historiographic metafiction” emerging in the 1980s;
  • The Past is Prologue - The Prisoner 's Dilemma - paralleling generational and geopolitical tensions during the Cold War;
  • encyclopedic novels of the 1990s – William Gass's The Tunnel (1995) and Don DeLillo's Underworld (1997);
  • imagining epoch - contemporary writers engaging in historical relativism while setting a narrative in the past;
  • epochal history of dominant “Western civilization” - enlightenment and slavery, perishable art and, imperishable violence;
  • Narrating Vietnam - contemporary denizens living on margins of American society;
  • The Speed Queen (1997), reflections of a woman on death row in Oklahoma, committing twelve murders

Summary

This chapter contains sections titled:

  • The Past is Prologue

  • Tunneling In

  • Imagining Epoch

  • Another History

  • Narrating Vietnam

  • Catastrophe: The Ends of History