Tuesday, April 08, 2008


So What's The Difference?

A few weeks ago, the New Yorker published Jill Lepore's fascinating (excuse me for using this word) article on the divergences of history and fiction writing. It's worth a whirl:

Historians and novelists are kin, in other words, but they’re more like brothers who throw food at each other than like sisters who borrow each other’s clothes. The literary genre that became known as “the novel” was born in the eighteenth century. History, the empirical sort based on archival research and practiced in universities, anyway, was born at much the same time. Its novelty is not as often remembered, though, not least because it wasn’t called “novel.” In a way, history is the anti-novel, the novel’s twin, though which is Cain and which is Abel depends on your point of view.

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