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« A note to Miss Sherwood, after reading one of her novels | Main | Numbers, Pre-Beginning of the Semester Edition »

January 22, 2008

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Don Napoli

Thanks for this post. I had long wondered where Beulah Marie Dix got the parallel-plot idea for The Road to Yesterday, a smash hit on Broadway in 1906.

Luther Blissett

My recently completed dissertation dealt with contemporary American historical novels, many of which feature this sort of double plot. The one I analyzed was Bharati Mukherjee's *The Holder of the World*.

I understand the double plot partly in the terms John McClure lays out in his *Late Imperial Romance*. For McClure, works by DeLillo and Pynchon follow in the tradition of *Heart of Darkness*, in which exotic locations feed the West's desire for spaces of mystery and tradition over against modernity. In my reading, the space of the text, research, writing, the archive, takes over the role of the Orient or imperial outside in offering the modern subject some space of mystery. The author -- or historian or historical detective or whathaveyou -- becomes the real subject of history, reducing history to mere textuality and agency to mere writing. The only action available is rewriting, and theory raises rewriting to the level of political action.

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