Making History

Fredric Jameson once noted that the ‘historical novel can no longer set out to represent the historical past; it can only “represent” our ideas and stereotypes about the past (which thereby at once become “pop history”)’. Yet here we are .... Readers seem to be as comfortable now with this hybrid genre as they were in the age of Scott or Georgette Heyer – and writers are still trying to satisfy what Jameson called that ‘chemical craving for historicity’. As another TLS critic put it, L. P. Hartley’s famous line about the past being a foreign country is true; and it seems that ‘we all enjoy reading the guidebook’.
— Michael Caines