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Novel History

Novel History Cover

Novel History

Historians and Novelists Confront America's Past (and Each Other)

By Mark C. Carnes

Simon & Schuster, Paperback, 9780684857664, 352pp.

Publication Date: March 5, 2004

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Description
Historical fiction is a contradiction in terms. History is what happened; fiction, what did not. Yet great novelists have often disregarded this logical difficulty, taking up the tools of the historian to explore the shadowy recesses of the past. Their labors have brought forth many literary treasures. But how accurately do these masterpieces of the imagination reflect the past?
In Novel History, twenty accomplished historians consider this question in relation to some of our most important historical novels. Their essays are followed in most instances by a response from the novelist. These dialogues illuminate one of the most fascinating and perplexing issues of our time -- the relation between the "real" past and our finest imaginative renderings of it. Novel History includes essays by distinguished historians such as John Demos, Michael Kammen, Joan D. Hedrick, John Lukacs, Eugene D. Genovese, Richard White, and Tom Wicker, and responses from notable novelists, including Gore Vidal, John Updike, Russell Banks, Don DeLillo, Larry McMurtry, Jane Smiley, Madison Smartt Bell, William Styron, T. Coraghessan Boyle, William Kennedy, Charles Frazier, Thomas Fleming, and Tim O'Brien.
Novel History is both a uniquely compelling perspective and a superb collection of literary history.


About the Author
Mark C. Carnes is a professor of history at Barnard College of Columbia University, editor of Past Imperfect: History According to the Movies, and co-general editor of American National Biography. He lives in Newburgh, New York.


Praise For Novel History

San Francisco Chronicle


Novel History offers insight into the minds of practitioners of the literary and historical arts.


Entertainment Weekly


Carnes's mission couldn't be more relevant in a pop culture that's increasingly "reality based."


The Toronto Star


A series of fascinating essays...particularly inspired...invaluable.

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