Archive | September, 2012


The End of the Beginning

Continued from Wednesday’s entry… When John Baines, the voiceless, invalid patriarch of The Old Wives’ Tale, expires in a moment of familial neglect, the omniscient narrator intones: Mid-Victorian England lay on that mahogany bed. Ideals had passed away with John Baines. William Boyd makes room for a related observation when the every-man protagonist of Any […]


On Narrative and Prophecy

Continued from Monday’s entry… Of the twelve works dealt with this year, it’s no accident that eight were novels. Even as history continuously struggles to establish itself as unalloyed nonfiction, historians and novelists share a meaningful preoccupation with narrative. The novel, an old art form, but one that reached a kind of zenith during the […]

Dawn of the Century

Inventors of the 20th Century

In 1896, the historian commonly known as Lord Acton gave a speech to the Syndics (officials) of the Cambridge University Press, in which he expressed a conviction that, in the coming years, “we can dispose of conventional history…now that all information is within reach, and every problem has become capable of solution.” The spirit evident […]