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Between History and Literature by Lionel Gossman

Introduction
En las palabras de Walpole, la historia es a species of romance that is belived, mientras
que una novela es a species of history that is not belived (citado por Gossman 3).

Chapter 7
History and Literature: Reproduction or Signification
LA HISTORIA ERA UNA RAMA DE LA LITERATURA
For a long time the relation of history to literature was not notably problematic.
History was a branch of literature. It was not until the meaning of the world
literature, or the institution of literature itself, began to change, toward the end of
the eighteenth century, that history came to appear as something distinct from
literature (227).
Por mucho tiempo la historia fue una rama de la literatura y no es sino en el siglo XVIII
que las palabras literatura e historia comienzan a ser vistas como algo diferente
(227).
Quintiliano trata a la historia como una forma de pica (227).
EL RENACIMIENTO
Renaissance reflection on historiography conformed, as one would expect, to the
precepts of the ancients. History writing was viewed as an art of presentation and
argument rather than a scientific inquiry, and its problems belonged therefore to rhetoric
rather than to epistemology. Though seventeenth- and eighteenth-century theories of
poetry usually left room for a neo-Platonic notion of divine inspiration inherited
from the Renaissance, literature had, for the most part, the sense of a practice, a
technique (228).
En el renacimiento la historia escrita es vista como un arte de presentacin de un
argumento en lugar de una indagacin cientfica y su problemtica es vista como parte de
la retrica en lugar de la epistemologa (228).
PEQUEA BRECHA ENTRE ESCRITOR Y LECTOR
Speaking of France, Sartre observes that the gap between writer and reader in the
seventeenth century was not great. Every reader was himself, in a lesser way, a writer.
Literature thus referred to the practice of writing. And historyalong with sermons,

eulogies, and letterswas one of the kinds of writing that could be practiced. The subjects
varied and required different treatment, but the craft was the same (228).
Hablando sobre Francia, Sartre observa que en el siglo XVII la brecha entre escritor y
lector no era grande. Todo lector era en menor medida un escritor. La literatura se
refera a la prctica de escribir y la historia al igual que los sermones, las elegas y las
cartas era uno de los tipos de escritura que podan ser practicadas. Los temas variaban y
requeran de tratamiento diferente pero el oficio era el mismo (228).

La historiografa es considerada, hasta el siglo XVIII, un


gnero literario (228).
In the final phase of neoclassicism, however, the long association of rhetoric and
literature began to break down. The term literature gradually became more closely
associated with poetry, or at least with poetic and figurative writing, and especially
among the Romantics and their successors, took on the meaning of a corpus of privileged
or sacred texts, a treasury in which value, truth, and beauty had been piously stored, and
which could be opposed to the empirical world of historical reality and even, to some
extent, to historiography as the faithful record of that reality (229)
Sin embargo, es al final del neoclasicismo que la larga asociacin que haba entre
retrica y literatura comienza a resquebrajarse. Gradualmente, la literatura
comienza a asociarse ms con la poesa o, al menos, con la escritura figurativa y
potica y, especialmente entre los romnticos y sus sucesores, asumi el significado
de un corpus de textos privilegiados o sagrados que haban sido instaurados en el
valor, la verdad y la belleza y, el cual, podra ser visto en un lugar opuesto al mundo
emprico de la realidad histrica y, hasta un punto, a la historiografa como el
record fidedigno de la realidad (229).
DE LA RETRICA A LA POTICA: EL ESCRITOR YA NO ES UN HABLANTE
DE IDIOMAS DIVINOS
the modern writer is constantly crossing frontiers and extending outward the limits
and possibilities of writing. The focus of the literarys activity, in short, has shifted
from rhetoric to poetics. The writer is now not so much a revealer of truths, a
speaker of divine language, as a maker of meanings and a restorer of human
languages (229).
En el siglo XVIII, por primera vez, la base epistemolgica de su ideal de copiar o de
representar imparcialmente lo real fue puesto en duda (230).
SEPARACIN ENTRE HISTORIOGRAFA Y LITERATURA
The separation of literature and historiography was institutionalized, moreover, by
the breakup of what had once been the republic of letters a society in which the
historians, both of the Enlightenment and of the early Romantic period, especially
in France, England, and Scotland, had mingled freely and shared common

experiences and aspirations with novelists, poets, philosophers, political thinkers,


economists, scientists, and statesmen. In the course of the nineteenth century
historians withdrew more and more to the university, to be followed by historians of
literature and by literary critics; and thus history, like literary scholarship, passed
from the hands of the poet and the man of letters into those of the professor (230).
SE ACABA LA MMESIS ENTRE HISTORIA Y LITERATURA
The old common ground of history and literature the idea of mimesis, and the central
importance of rhetorichas thus been gradually vacated by both. The practicing historian
is rarely a practicing literary artist (231).
POLOS OPUESTOS?
Traditionally, then, history and fictional storytelling confront and challenge each
other at opposite poles of narrative practice. The actual development of each,
however, reveals both great similarities and some significant tensions. Since each is
realized in and through narrative, the forms of the narrative and the view of the
world that particular narrative forms convey may well be common to both at any
given time (233).
INTERCAMBIOS
We may then discover that while historians are striving to achieve mximum
narrative coherency and to approximate to the forms of fiction, certain novelists are
trying to undercut these very forms and conventions by an appeal to history
(233).
DIFERENCIA ENTRE HISTORIADOR Y POETA SEGN VOLTAIRE
The difference between the historian and the epic poet, for Voltaire, thus lay in the
nature of the material out of which each composed his work. In the conditions of the
modern critical thought the material of the one could no longer be identical with that of
the other. Historical material and legendary material were now distinct. Nevertheless, the
essential concerns of the epic poet and of the historian, not as scholar but as writer,
were the same: careful selection of an appropiate subject matter and skillful
narrative composition (235).
Voltaire quera que la historia se convirtiera en una sucesora moderna de la pica
(236).
INTERSECCIONES ENTRE LITERATURA E HISTORIA, PG. 239:

SCHILLER, PG. 241:


El curso del mundo y el curso de la historia El orden de la historia no es dado, es
construido

USO DE LOS TIEMPOS VERBALES, PG. 242:

DISTANCIA ENTRE EL NARRADOR Y LA NARRATIVA:


The characteristic feature of eighteenth-century fiction is the ironic distance most
eighteenth-century novels establish between the narrator and the narrative, and the
complicity they set up between the reader and the narrator over against the
narrativethat is to say, the clear distinction they make between discours and
histoire, and the privilege they accord to the former. This is also what characterizes
Voltaire, Hume, and Gibbon as historians. The Enlightenment historian tells his tale
under the same conditions as the eighteenth-century novelist, and, like him, engages
the reader with him as ironic spectator of the historical scene or tableau (243).
LA HISTORIA EN EL SIGLO XVIII
What was important was not the truth of the narrative so much as the activity of
reflecting about its truth. History, in the eighteenth century, raised questions and
created conditions in which the individual subject, the critical reason, could exercise
and assert its freedom. It did not present itself as an objectively true and therefore
compelling discovery of reality itself. On the contrary, its truth and validity were
always problematic, provoking the readers reflection and thus renewing his
freedom. In an important sense, therefore, historical narrative and fictional
narrative were constructed in fundamental similar ways in the eighteenth century
(244).

EL NARRADOR DEL SIGLO XIX APARECE COMO UN REPORTERO,


PGINA 244: The dominant feature of both fictional and historical narrative in
the nineteenth century is the replacement of the overt eighteenth-century persona of
the narrator by a covert narrator, and the corresponding presentation of the
narrative as unproblematic, absolutely binding. The nineteenth-century narrator
appears as a privileged reporter recounting what happened. The historical text is
not presented as a model to be discussed, criticized, accepted, or repudiated by the
free and inquiring intellect, but as the inmost form of the real, binding, and
inescapable. In the struggle to establish philosophie, in other words, the eighteenthcentury historian accepted his ideological function proudly; in the nineteenth
century the historians ideological function and the rhetoric he deployed in its
service were denied, in the deepest sense, since the historian himself did not
recognize them (244)
CORRESPONDENCIAS ACTUALES
In our own time, there appear to be correspondences between developments in
historiography and certain developments in modern fiction among them the
repudiation of realism, the collapse of the subject or character as an integrated and
integrating entity, and the increasingly acute awareness of the fundamental logic or
syntax of narrative and of the constraints and opportunities it provides (244).
SIGLO XIX: LA SUBJETIVIDAD DEL CONOCIMIENTO HISTRICO
Above all, the attach on historical realism, begun in the early nineteenth century, has
become more intense and more radical. Nineteenth-century philosophers challenged the
naive realism of the classical historians and emphasized the place of subjectivity in
historical knowledge. For many who reflected on the problems of historical knowledge,
the fact that the knower is himself involved in the historical process as a maker of history
and is thus unable to achieve the objective view aspired to by the natural scientist was
the very condition of historical knowledge, as opposed to knowledge of the natural world.
There was no question, however, that the historians aim was to know and to reveal the
reality of the past. Only that reality was now thought of as at once given and conceled, so
that the historians job, as Humboldt had said at the beginning of the century in his essay
Die Aufgabe des Geschinchtschreibers, was to divine (ahnden) it. The historian was to
reach through to past reality by a process of divination or symbolic interpretation of the
evidence. Recent reflection on history, like recent reflection on literature, in contrast, has
tended increasingly to question the mimetic ideal itself (245).
LA IMAGINACIN DEL HISTORIADOR
But many writers have emphasized the important role played by the historians
imagination, his concerns as an individual and as a social being, and even by his
unconscious, both in the determination of the problem to be studied and in the shaping of
the historical narrative (247) y a continuacin cita Hayden White.

LA HISTORIA CONSTRUYE SUS OBJETOS Y ESOS OBJETOS SON


OBJETOS DEL LENGUAJE
One of the most effective and radical criticisms of historical realism
has been made by highlighting the linguistic existence of historical
narratives, by emphasizing that history constructs its objects, and that
its objects are objects of language, rather than entities of which words
are in some way copies (248)
IMPORTANTE: PGINA 249

LOS SIGNIFICANTES
This historians narrative is constructed not upon reality itself or upon transparent
images of it, but on signifiers which the historians own action transforms into signs. It is
not historical reality itself but the present signs of the historian that limit and order the
historical narrative (just as, conversely, the historical narrative limits and orders them).
Almost all historians acknowledge this implicitly in the act of placing their notes
sources, evidence at the foot of the page (250).
NARRATIVA HISTRICA: SISTEMA SEMIOLGICO SECUNDARIO
I have already suggested that historical narrative constitutes a secondary semiological
system whose elements events, actions, and so on already have a meaning within the
system of ordinary language, prior to being appropiated by the secondary system and
adapted to its ends (251).
REPUDIO DE LA LITERATURA COMO MITO, pgina 252: