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Making History in Washington Irving’s “Rip van Winkle” and James Joyce’s Ulysses

From the book Wherefrom Does History Emerge?

  • Dieter Fuchs


Owing to the circumstance that events from the past become meaningful by way of interpretation - or cultural representation - only, the writing of history bears structural affinities to storytelling. Like any other narrative, history may be considered a story made up by a narrator who tries to order the chaos of scattered events from the past by imposing a logical order on a series of chronological events. Representing history may be thus conceived as plotting or ‘making history.’ Keeping this aspect in mind, the article compares two narratives from the field of literature to elucidate two different concepts of ‘making’ history: a linear approach to history exemplified in Washington Irving’s “Rip van Winkle” (1819) and a cyclical interpretation of the past elucidated in James Joyce’s Ulysses (1922).

© 2020 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston
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