The University of Southampton
University of Southampton Institutional Repository

Unorthodox chronologies, secret histories: the novel and the critique of historicism

Glover, David (2009) Unorthodox chronologies, secret histories: the novel and the critique of historicism Novel, 42, (3), pp. 417-422. (doi:10.1215/00295132-2009-036).

Record type: Article


In the immediate aftermath of World War II, the roman fleuve underwent an unexpected revival in Britain, reaching a new peak of popularity in the work of Anthony Powell, C. P. Snow, Lawrence Durrell, and Doris Lessing (among others). Its success raises the question of the relationship between the novel and history in a peculiarly sharp form, a point emphasized by Perry Anderson during a 1983 conference commemorating the centenary of Marx's death when he described Powell's avowedly anti-Marxist series A Dance to the Music of Time as "the most important piece of postwar fiction in the English language for the metropolitan world." Anderson's judgment, based on the claim that a masterpiece can be identified in terms of its historical coordinates, ignores the extent to which the postwar roman fleuve incorporated secret histories, occult ironies, irrational or pathological episodes, and coincidental indeterminacies as part of a fascination with unorthodox causal structures and the breakup of secular time. Today these contingent textual incidents seem to foreshadow a wider set of uncertainties regarding the true scope of historical narrative: the place of the event in cultural analysis, the interruption of "homogeneous, empty time," the attempt to introduce a poetics of history, and the interrogation of secular models of explanation. Since these questions also intrude upon the world of fiction, we might ask: to what extent does the novel now depend upon the critique of historicism?

Full text not available from this repository.

More information

Published date: 2009


Local EPrints ID: 73663
ISSN: 0029-5132
PURE UUID: 4dbc5efa-73f7-4515-9535-e235eda4ac62

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 11 Mar 2010
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 23:48

Export record


Download statistics

Downloads from ePrints over the past year. Other digital versions may also be available to download e.g. from the publisher's website.

View more statistics

Atom RSS 1.0 RSS 2.0

Contact ePrints Soton:

ePrints Soton supports OAI 2.0 with a base URL of

This repository has been built using EPrints software, developed at the University of Southampton, but available to everyone to use.

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.