© 2011

Narrating the Past

Historiography, Memory and the Contemporary Novel

  • Authors

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xiv
  2. Historiography and Fiction

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 1-1
    2. Alan Robinson
      Pages 3-24
    3. Alan Robinson
      Pages 25-53
  3. Issues in Practice

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 55-55
    2. Alan Robinson
      Pages 57-83
    3. Alan Robinson
      Pages 84-119
    4. Alan Robinson
      Pages 120-149
    5. Alan Robinson
      Pages 150-169
    6. Alan Robinson
      Pages 170-192
  4. Back Matter
    Pages 193-226

About this book


In recent years controversy has surrounded the narrative turn in history and the historical turn in fiction. This book clarifies what is at stake, tracing connections between historiography and life-writing, arguing that the challenges posed in representing the past illuminate issues which are central to all literary narrative.


fiction historiography history Narrative novel Victorian era British and Irish Literature

About the authors

ALAN ROBINSON is Professor of English at the University of St Gallen, Switzerland. He has taught at the Universities of Oxford, Lancaster and Cologne and at all the German Swiss universities.

Bibliographic information


'Alan Robinson's monograph, Narrating the Past: Historiography, Memory and the Contemporary Novel offers a comprehensive analysis of the relationship between theories of history and contemporary narrative fiction...In summary, Robinson's book is a theoretically sophisticated engagement with and intervention in the debates of the past forty years or so regarding the relationship between history and fiction. This is framed against innovative and thorough analyses of a selection of representative novels.' - Year's Work in English Studies

'Historical fiction evokes into virtual existence a former possible world, retrieving the past into the present. In explaining how it does this, Robinson argues for a renewed interest and appreciation of the imaginary presence of the past in history and memory and for greater understanding between historians and literary critics. A complex and ambitious scholarly project, Narrating the Past is important reading for cultural historians, historiographers and literary specialists.' - Jane Mattison, English Studies