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By Ann Rigney

Imperfect Histories places "imperfection" on the middle of a thought of ancient illustration. Ann Rigney exhibits how old writing comprises facing intractable topics that withstand our efforts to understand and to form them. those that write heritage, she says, interact in an ongoing fight to check up what they locate suitable some time past with the data and interpretive types at their disposal. power dissatisfaction is on the middle of historic perform. this is often particularly obtrusive within the a variety of makes an attempt remodeled the final centuries to put in writing an "alternative" heritage of daily adventure. targeting old writing within the final a long time of the eighteenth century and the 1st half the 19th, Rigney analyzes a variety of works by means of Walter Scott, Jules Michelet, Augustin Thierry, and Thomas Carlyle. She indicates how the try to write another heritage introduced old writing right into a shut but fraught courting with literature. the result's a brand new account of that courting because it took form within the romantic interval and because it keeps to steer modern practices.

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Sample text

In recent years, there has been a tendency to approach fictionality from a pragmatic point of view, as a particular attitude to information, rather than simply from the point of view of the ontology of inventions. Seen from a pragmatic perspective, fictional utterances are conventionally distin­ guished by the fact that those who produce them enjoy the freedom to in­ vent and do not claim to speak the literal truth; in contrast, nonfictional ut­ terances solicit belief in the truth of the world presented and thus potentially also elicit criticism on the grounds of inaccuracy.

Accordingly the goal of analysis has usually been to categorize ut­ terances either as truth telling or as fictional, not to explain how it might be possible for them to be at least two things at once. As far as theorists of fiction are concerned, this desire to resolve hetero­ geneity into some clear-cut state follows logically from two related assump­ tions that have tended to steer debates : the idea that fictionality inevitably don1inates its environment (a discussion focused on fictionality-as­ invention) and the idea that it is a property of the speech-act as a whole (a disCllssion focused on fictionality as a particular attitude to information) .

As I argue later in Chapter 2, the incongruence is chronic)! people have to make do with the less than satisfactory representations they l1ave, or go in quest of alternatives. In arrogating to himself as a novelist the freedom to invent the particu­ lars of his story, Scott reneged on the claim to be fully and literally true-to­ actuality since he did not bind himself to respect particular facts. But he did not thereby renege on the claim to have represented Scottish history in such a way as to be true-to-its-meaning, and indeed!

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