Naomi Jacobs's The Character of Truth: Historical Figures in Contemporary PDF

By Naomi Jacobs

ISBN-10: 0585187088

ISBN-13: 9780585187082

ISBN-10: 0809316072

ISBN-13: 9780809316076

Can the radical live to tell the tale in an age whilst stories of ancient figures and modern personalities dominate the analyzing lists of the book-buying public?Naomi Jacobs addresses this query in a research of writers comparable to William Styron, E. L. Doctorow, and Robert Coover, who problem the dominance of nonfiction via populating their fictions with actual humans, dwelling and useless. Jacobs explores the genesis, types, and implications of this development in a prose as full of life as that of the writers she critiques.Using as a case examine Robert Coover’s portrait of Richard Nixon within the Public Burning, Jacobs addresses the real felony and moral questions raised via this development and applies modern libel legislation to the fictionalization of residing humans, reminiscent of Richard Nixon. She closes her examine via speculating at the way forward for this machine and of the unconventional.

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Additional resources for The Character of Truth: Historical Figures in Contemporary Fiction (Crosscurrents Modern Critiques)

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Thus, particularly in narratives with contemporary settings, clear dis- Page 15 tinctions between fact and fiction became more necessary. To prevent angering the censors or incurring the tax, novelists restricted their stories to those with no specific contemporary reference or political significance; to maintain the appeal of "newes" that made the new novelistic narratives so popular, they made unverifiable truth claims about unrecognizable characters and events. The foreign or classical names that had sometimes marked historical characters were replaced by names that could very well be those of some real persons, but that were too common to be traceable to any particular real person.

Castelvetro's 1590 translation of the Poetics, for example, argued that a historical subject is superior to a wholly invented subject, for if poetry is a "likeness of or resemblance to history," it follows that the ''plot of tragedy and epic should accept things which have actually happened and which are common to it and to historical truth. " Castelvetro's argument implied that any changes or additions to history would reduce the reader's belief in the events portrayed. " Virgil needed a character worthy to receive Aeneas on the shores of Africa; he chose Page 3 Dido because she represented the type of character he sought and because her "execrations at her death" (69) prefigure the Roman conquest of Carthage and glorify Rome.

However confidently contemporary writers justify their indifference to literal truth, those who treat living people may find that the law does not yet share their postmodernist insouciance. My fifth chapter explains the legal principles under which fictional treatments of living people may be ruled libelous. Robert Coover's The Public Burning, with its outrageous representations of a fictional character named Richard M. Nixon, demonstrates the extent to which libel law regarding public figures may support writers who argue that celebrity personae are media-created fictions, saturated with ideology, and that a fiction writer's revision or distortion of such personae is a justifiable form of commentary upon public matters and public myths.

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The Character of Truth: Historical Figures in Contemporary Fiction (Crosscurrents Modern Critiques) by Naomi Jacobs


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