Monday, 3 September 2007

"Alias Grace" by Margaret Atwood: the novel's form - historiographical metafiction

Historiographic metafiction
The text is postmodernist (a text that feeds off of texts.) There is a variety of texts that make up this type of writing. Some texts such as Nancy’s reading, Sir Walter Scott’s poem, “The Lady of the Lake” is re-used a later as a chapter title but this time referring to the passage of Grace on the ferry to the USA.

"Historiographic metafiction is one kind of postmodern novel which rejects projecting present beliefs and standards onto the past and asserts the specificity and particularity of the individual past event. It also suggests a distinction between ☆events★ and ☆facts★ that is one shared by many historians. Since the documents become signs of events, which the historian transmutes into facts, as in historiographic metafiction, the lesson here is that the past once existed, but that our historical knowledge of it is semiotically transmitted. Finally, Historiographic metafiction often points to the fact by using the paratextual conventions of historiography to both inscribe and undermine the authority and objectivity of historical sources and explanations." (122-123, Linda Hutcheon)

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I teach Film, Media and English Lit.