Trading Magic for Fact, Fact for Magic: Myth and Mythologizing in Postmodern Canadian Historical Fiction
This study brings together three major areas of interest - history, postmodern fiction, and myth. Whereas neither history and postmodern fiction nor history and myth are strangers to one another, postmodernism and myth are odd bedfellows. For many critics, postmodern thought with its resistance to metanarratives stands in direct and deliberate contrast to myth with its apparent tendency to explain the world by means of neat, complete narratives.
There is a strain of postmodern Canadian historical fiction in which myth actually forms a complement not only to postmodernism's suspicion of master-narratives but also to its privileging of those marginal and at times ignored areas of history. The fourteen works of Canadian fiction
considered demonstrate a doubled impulse which at first glance seems contradictory. On the one hand, they go about demythologizing - in the Barthesian sense - various elements of historical discourse, exposing its authority as not simply a natural given but as a construct. This includes the fact that the view of history portrayed in the fiction has been either underrepresented or suppressed by official historiography. On the other hand, the history is then re-mythologized, in that it becomes part of a pre-existing myth, its mythic elements are foregrounded, myth and magic are woven into the narrative, or it is portrayed as extraordinary in some way. The result is an empowering of these histories for the future; they are made larger than life and unforgettable.
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appear attempt aware Barthes becomes Berkhofer Berthoff Big Bear Bolden Buddy Bolden Canadian Literature challenge character claims clearly Coming Through Slaughter constructed course create culture Discourse of History elements essential example extraordinary fact Flick Fort Marion four Indians Further page references Hans Bertens happened Hayden White historian historical discourse historical events Historical Knowledge historical novel historical practice historiographic metafiction Hutcheon important Kanada Kroetsch Kuester legend Magic Realism marginal metanarratives Michael Ondaatje Murasaki myth of historical mythic impulse Mythologies narrative narrator Native Indian Nature of Historical Noman Noman's Land notion Nünning objectivity trick official history Ondaatje's ordinary past perspective Poetics of Postmodernism possible postmodern historical fiction Postmodernist present problems question reader Reading Notes reality reconstruction regard retelling rewriting Robert Robert Kroetsch Rodopi Rudy Wiebe says semiological sense signifier Stanford statement story technique telling textuality things tion told truth voice Wesseling Wiebe Writing History
Page 3 - One believes that the meaning is going to die, but it is a death with reprieve; the meaning loses its value, but keeps its life, from which the form of the myth will draw its nourishment. The meaning will be for the form like an instantaneous reserve of history, a tamed richness, which it is possible to call and dismiss in a sort of rapid alternation...
Page 3 - Myth does not deny things, on the contrary, its function is to talk about them; simply, it purifies them, it makes them innocent, it gives them a natural and eternal justification, it gives them a clarity which is not that of an explanation but that of a statement of fact.