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Crossing Borders

The Interrelation of Fact and Fiction in Historical Works, Travel Tales, Autobiography and Reportage


Maureen A. Ramsden

In the twentieth century, the boundaries between different literary genres started to be questioned, raising a discussion about the various narrative modes of factual and fictional discourses.
Moving on from the limited traditional studies of genre definitions, this book argues that the borders between these two types of discourse depend on complex issues of epistemology, literary traditions and social and political constraints. This study attempts a systematic and specific analysis of how literary works, and in particular documentary ones, where the borders are more difficult to define, can be classified as factual or fictional. The book deals with several areas of discourse, including history, travel tales, autobiography and reportage, and opens up perspectives on the very different ways in which documentary works make use of the inescapable presence of both factual and fictional elements.


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I would like to thank most sincerely my supervisor for my PhD at Harvard, Professor Susan Rubin Suleiman, and my second reader, Professor Per Nykrog, for their support in agreeing to a topic which was fairly new in the last decades of the twentieth century, that of the interrelation of fact and fiction in documentary works, including history, travel tales, autobi- ography and reportage. Those books written on this subject at the time were mainly devoted to one area of documentary works, such as history and autobiography. The idea of borders, in various disciplines, as well as literature, is enjoying a resurgence in the twenty-first century. I would also like to thank Dr Martin Hall of King’s College London, for reading and commenting on my work, as I turned the manuscript into a book, and Dr Ann Miller of Leicester University, who has given me unfailing sup- port throughout and also Dr Nathalie Fayard at Leicester for her input in translating the quotations. More recently, I very much appreciated the very helpful input I had from Dr Terry Hale of Hull University, Professor Ulrike Zitzlsperger at Exeter and especially Dr Toby Garfitt of Magdalen College Oxford, for not only writing an excellent preface for my book, but also for his very thorough reading if it. This monograph was a long time in the making. I completed it in my own time whilst on a part-time contract at Hull University and in any spare time I could find whilst also teaching...

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