ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Narrative History Writing

A comparative analysis of Natalie Davis’s The Return of Martin Guerre (1983) and Partha Chatterjee’s A Princely Impostor (2002) is undertaken to identify the possibilities and limitations of narrative history writing.

After the 1960s, a central theme of debate in the sphere of historical research has been to ascertain to what extent, narrative history writing has been a legitimate way to know, understand, explain, and construct the past. Historians of this age did some remarkable work by incorporating methods of narrative history writing and have received due appreciation. Hayden White (1987: 1) summarises the role and importance of narrative: “so natural is the impulse to narrate, so inevitable is the form of narrative for any report on the way things really happened.” According to this opinion, the past can only be known through narratives. But then, the question arises: is the only aim of history to know the past? Is it not the process

of identifying historical change as well? The main focus of the debates of narrative history writing has been to know the past in its entirety and understand its “truth” and “meaning.” White (1987: 2) further argues that the absence of narrative capacity or a refusal to narrate indicates an absence and refusal of meaning itself.

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Updated On : 3rd Jan, 2018
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