Fiction and the Incompleteness of History

Toni Morrison, V. S. Naipaul, and Ben Okri

by Ying Zhu (Author)
Monographs 160 Pages


With reference to Paul Ricoeur’s conception of the interconnectedness of history and fiction, this comparative literary study examines narrative strategies that three contemporary writers of fiction – Toni Morrison, V. S. Naipaul, and Ben Okri – have devised to counteract the incompleteness of historical representation. In her novel Beloved Morrison redefines the slave-narrative tradition and reveals an alternative history of slavery by unveiling the interior lives of her characters. Through a hybrid prose that mixes fiction with history in the novels The Enigma of Arrival and A Way in the World, Naipaul illuminates «areas of darkness» in the diasporic world of East Indian Trinidadians and provides new ways of transforming English literary and cultural history. Focusing on West African identity and community, Okri brings a mythic and fantastic dimension to postcolonial fiction as a way of giving a voice to people who are generally without power and almost without any place in a world of inequality and injustice. Probing into historical incompleteness, this study underscores the indispensable role of fiction in representing life, rectifying history, and enlarging reality.


ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2011 (December)
Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Wien, 2006. 160 pp.

Biographical notes

Ying Zhu (Author)

The Author: Zhu Ying received her BA and M.A. in English Language and Literature from Wuhan University in the People’s Republic of China. She completed her Ph.D. in English Literary Studies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and is currently teaching and working for the American Studies Program in the Department of English at East China Normal University in Shanghai. Her research interests are contemporary fiction, critical theories, postcolonial studies, and African American and American literature.


Title: Fiction and the Incompleteness of History