The Content of the Form: Narrative Discourse and Historical Representation

The Content of the Form: Narrative Discourse and Historical Representation

by Hayden White
     
 

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Hayden White probes the notion of authority in art and literature and examines the problems of meaning—its production, distribution, and consumption—in different historical epochs. In the end, he suggests, the only meaning that history can have is the kind that a narrative imagination gives to it. The secret of the process by which consciousness invests

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Overview

Hayden White probes the notion of authority in art and literature and examines the problems of meaning—its production, distribution, and consumption—in different historical epochs. In the end, he suggests, the only meaning that history can have is the kind that a narrative imagination gives to it. The secret of the process by which consciousness invests history with meaning resides in "the content of the form," in the way our narrative capacities transform the present into a fulfillment of a past from which we would wish to have descended.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Here, White continues and extends the influential analysis of historical writing he began in Metahistory (1974) . He rejects the idea that history reports the past as it actually happened; narrative proceeds according to its own rules, and to use it is to adopt a certain conception of how events are organized. This conception arises not from the ``facts'' of history but from the nature of narrative: the ``content of the form.'' White sees history as akin to fiction in its methods and tasks, and though he does not adequately address the status of his own workis what he writes intended to be true in a stronger sense than he allows his subjects?this is a provocative work certain to be widely read by historians, philosophers, and literary theorists. David Gordon, Social Philosophy & Policy Ctr., Bowling Green State Univ., Ohio
London Review of Books

The publication of The Content of the Form... is an important event. It shows that for a long period White has been unremittingly concerned with a revaluation of the concept of narrative in the contemporary context, and that the various different intellectual stimuli which he has received have all helped to focus his intense study of the subject.

Style

This oeuvre will continue to force us to pay close, careful, rigorous attention to the syntheses he offers, so that anyone who 'reads'—whether fiction, history, biography, autobiography, whatever—needs to have examined the writings of Hayden White.

American Historical Review

[White] has clearly made significant advances in laying a foundation for a better understanding of the intricate interaction between narrative representation and what it purports to represent in both history and literature.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780801896149
Publisher:
Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication date:
12/08/2009
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
264
Sales rank:
1,141,632
File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
18 Years

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