L I T T O R A L

History’s reason needs fiction’s dreams

01/10/2009  by Arlo Haskell  Comment on this Post
 

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Allan Gurganus delivered a talk Friday morning called “A Still Small Voice Under the Cannonade: Field Notes toward Fiction’s Pact with History.” Photo by Nick Vagnoni. Thanks to [Nancy Klingener](http://boneislandbooks.wordpress.com/) for the following

Allan Gurganus’s talk Friday morning was part literary lecture, part stand-up routine. Sources cited included Homer, John Cheever, Grace Paley, Oscar Wilde and, most liberally, Rodney Dangerfield. For anyone who missed it, or wants to recapture the full context, keep a look out for the podcast but here are some excerpts:

    ”Liars like historians and politicians tend to overdocument.”
    ”Myth is gossip grown old.”
    ”History is agreed-upon hearsay granted tenure.”
    ”American history is so recent that you can still, from a seated position, touch either wall.”
    ” … the term historical fiction sounds as pitifully redundant as, say, creative writing. … It’s like having ‘oxygen breather’ stamped on your driver’s license.”
    ”History’s reason needs fiction’s dreams.”
    ”If I had happened to have been born heterosexual with a trust fund in Akron, Ohio, would I have even been a writer?”
    ”Unlike in life itself, in literature powerlessness can win.”
    ”Who could not love this mutt, history?”
And the all-important closer:
    ”We need history so much, we historians and novelists, we keep making it up. And history returns the favor.”

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