The Postimperial British Debate over History versus Heritage

Suzanne Keen, Professor of English, Washington and Lee University

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Romances of the archive often present a past inflected less by academic history than by British heritage. In Jonathan Raban's words, this heritage (so often substituted for history by Margaret Thatcher and her followers) means 'something we have possession of after the death of the original owners' that we are 'free to use ... as we choose' (Mrs. Thatcher 24). The history invoked by romances of the archive is predominantly a usable past, so this book also confronts fictional representations of the past that, from a postmodern perspective, seem conservative, nostalgic, defen-sive, or insufficiently sceptical about finding the truth. [???].

Related Materials


Keen, Suzanne. Romances of the Archive in Contemporary British Fiction. Toronto: University of Toronto, 2001.

Raban, Jonathan. Mrs. Thatcher.

United Kingdom

Last Modified: 24 September 2002