Posted by Hil on November 16, 1997 at 22:45:15:
In response to History vs. reality, written by Jane Elizabeth on November 15, 1997 at 14:53:09
] I thought of this in relation to the scholars in Possession. Would Roland or Maud give up all their research and documents about the past in exchange for one hour living in it? One hour in Ash's house, in Yorkshire, with Christabel in the tower? The answer for them is most likely also a resounding No. Their raison d'etre is the act of discovering and investigating, and then INVENTING their own version of things. It isn't really truth they're after, but a way of making the past relevant to themselves.
] All history is fiction after all. And if you went back in time, to Agincourt, or Camelot, or anywhere, all you could do with the knowledge would be to retell it from your own point of view. The truth would be your own invention.
I know it has become fashionable to see all history as fiction. I also have a lot of time for the arguement that historical accounts are coloured by the tellers' perspectives. But I have difficulty in accepting that there is no hard historical truth, and I think there are dangers in seeing truth as invention.
I agree a lot of Roland's and Maud's intellectual pleasure is in the discovering and investigating, but I think they are after some notion of hard truth, not invention. After all, if you can just invent the past, where is the challenge of making it relevant to yourself?
I'm not sure what they would say to an hour with our heroes. But if they didn't choose the hour, it would be because it wasn't long enough to find out the truth, rather than because they wanted to kep on inventing.
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