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Historical Fiction and Fantasy History

  • Editions Enlaplage


This essay provides an explanation of the category of "fantasy history" applicable to two books by Philip Winsor. The category of "historical fiction" is investigated as a preliminary, particularly the nineteenth-century manifestations, including intensive consideration of Alexandre Dumas' novel "La dame de Monsoreau."
The highly charged Edward Snowden matter of eminent public record
coincided with the appearance of the novella, , by Philip Winsor. As
publisher I accepted a completed draft before the beginning of February of
2013, when the book received its title, which economy and the dynamic
suggested. From this moment forward, the title steadily acquired a more
general context. The computer specialist Snowden took leave of absence from
his government contractor posting in Hawai’i and began establishing contact
with members of the press to arrange for the disclosure of a trove of
documents purloined from the National Security Agency (NSA). As the
leaking of documents proceeded, he fled to Hong Kong. A criminal complaint
was filed against him in U.S. federal court on June 14, and on June 23 he
arrived in Russia with temporary asylum.1 Meanwhile, the editorial process
having been completed, an e-book version of    appeared; the
copyright claim was uploaded to the Library of Congress on 12 November
2013.2 On December 18 the General Assembly of the United Nations
denounced warrantless surveillance of the kind conducted by the NSA,3 this
being the main object of Snowden’s disclosures. In much the same way, the
protagonist of    arranges to publish documentary evidence of
1 Luke Harding,    
 (New York: Vintage, 2014).
2 A paperback publication followed on 21 May 2015: Philip Winsor,  (State
College: Editions Enlaplage).
3 U.N. Resolution 68/167: “The right to privacy in the digital age.”
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totalitarian subversion as he passes beyond the reach of U.S. law. The title of
the book can thus be said to generalize and dramatize a special set of
circumstances that gave rise, in that very instant, to a sequence of epoch-
making events.
Thus the writing of  altogether preceded the Snowden matter, and
by the time of its publication revelations of NSA surveillance were in the
process of unleashing a crescendo of international opprobrium—but there is
no overt connection here. Rather, there is what one might call an “intelligent
coincidence.” An approximation is provided, not so much by the rediscovered
and now famous Ingersoll Lockwood satiric novels of the mid-1890s, which
appear to have extensive advance knowledge of the character Trump and of a
populist presidency contriving the destruction of the nation—these books are
sufficiently prescient for internet theorists to ascribe a time-travel capability
to the Trump family4—but rather by the novella , published in 1898,5
in which an ocean liner named , believed to be unsinkable, strikes a
North Atlantic iceberg and founders with massive loss of life owing to a lack
of lifeboats. A copy of  allegedly was housed in the library of the real-
life ,6 which sank in similar circumstances on its maiden voyage in
April 1912.
4 Jaime Fulley, “Trump is the Star of These Bizarre Victorian Novels, and the
Internet is Losing Its Mind,” , 17 October 2017,
magazine/story/2017/10/07/baron-trump-novels-victorian-215689. Other literary
works predicting features of our current circumstances seem myopic by com-
parison, for example those noted in Wilder Davies, “8 Books that Eerily Predicted
the Future,” , 30 August 2018,
5 Morgan Robertson,  (New York: Mansfield, 1898).
6 Charles Pellegrino,   !   "    #$ 
$"#%& (New York: Avon, 1990), 53–54, unconfirmed and
in all likelihood apocryphal.
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Apparently ’s author could imagine the situation and foresee it to a
considerable extent, and, like , the prediction was realized essen-
tially as developments unfolded. Yet while  is a stab at fiction suited
for an uncouth readership craving the comic and the bizarre,  is
honed by its author’s studied interest in novelistic themes and structures.
According to current popular taxonomies,    would belong in the
genre of Speculative Fiction and its sub-genre of Alternative History. Never-
theless, we see that it stands surprisingly close to reality and actuality, a
feature that distinguishes it from such categories.
To adjust the taxonomy we should consider the connection between history
and “alternative history” as well as the visible objectives of historical fiction.
Alternative history in its pure form involves a grand departure from the
known course of history and an exploration of divergent contingencies. Yet
evidence of alteration can be found in all historical fiction. The great resound-
ing historical novels—one must think of Tolstoy’s    (1869)—
take events, such as military campaigns, that actually happened, and then
spin off in a fictional manner. This is the underlying formula of a novel such
as  by Bao Ninh,7 where there is no intention of presenting
history in any form other than the real. The author’s principal goal is a
coming-to-grips with the realities of war—glory and distinction are left aside
as utterly inconsequential in comparison to the devastation, pathos, and
brutality of war. Accurate detail is vital for achieving such a goal, and fiction
serves with representative stories that allow the realities to coalesce into a
message that is imbibed.
7 Bao Ninh,  '() (New York: Riverhead,
1996; first Vietnamese publication 1991).
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Substitute History
In many other novels, historical details are consciously and purposefully
altered. The fiction can take exclusive hold. Joan Lindsay’s $$
*# (1967) appears to present a historical mystery of a schoolgirl’s dis-
appearance, but is actually pure fiction retaining only the cultural setting of
the historical period in question. After finally becoming aware of the fiction,
the reader takes a certain perverse pleasure in having been deceived so
Dan Brown’s   +  )  , (2003) is a more complex case, in part
because it is not set primarily in the past, though its historical and quasi-
historical content is quite massive. Shortly after its appearance a reader de-
scribed it to me in rough terms and asked me to provide historical reading
matter that would cast light on its themes. This highly educated individual
evidently imagined the book as some fount of learning and wished to affirm
or dispel that impression. Upon perusing my suggested materials,8 he rapidly
lost interest, realizing no doubt that +),’s historical under-
pinnings were quite bogus. For my own interest, upon finishing the book I
conducted a careful investigation into its basis. This was an unexpectedly
simple task, since the foundations were drawn almost entirely from 
- ., a pseudo-investigative work purporting to demonstrate the
crucial value of sources that actually had been forged by twentieth-century
8 Thus Elaine Pagels, . .& (New York: Vintage, 1981), and Henry
Chadwick, , (Penguin History of the Church 1; Harmondsworth,
9 Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, and Henry Lincoln, - . (New
York: Dell, 1983). The original title of the English publication (1982) is 
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- ., a bestseller in its own right, made many further sales
on the back of +), and together they spawned a pseudo-genre
comprising half-baked excursions (whether literary, pseudo-historical, or
spiritual) on the theme of a putative bloodline of descent from Jesus and
Mary Magdalene—a veritable blight on the book-publishing industry and the
more gullible sectors of the reading public. There is little question that 
+ ) ,’s author had made a conscious effort to deceive readers into
believing a false set of historical circumstances. But the attempt to revise
history by adopting a substitute can at least lead to questions about the role
of ( in historical fiction.
Birth of the Historical Novel
In the development of the historical novel, /&,0( (1678) by
Mme. de la Fayette is a seventeenth-century outlier: while not entirely
unique as such,10 its connection to later novels of the Romantic period
remains tenuous, despite its enduring popularity. It is conceivable that Mme.
de la Fayette transposed characters from her contemporary scene to a
sixteenth-century setting, and perhaps she did this to disguise their
identities. If so, her utilization of history would be opportunistic rather than
systematic. However, her interest in the chosen time-frame, specifically the
years 1558 and 1559, is intense: her familiarity with persons and events of
that period impresses at every turn. A possible motive for setting the story in
that period is the simplistic manner in which the court society mirrored her
10 Another extraordinary forerunner of the historical novel from the same period is
Guy Allard, 12 3 &$
& (Grenoble, 1673). Further French titles in early historical
fiction are listed in Gustave Dulong, /%%45*4!4&&
6)0 (2 vols., Paris: Champion, 1921), 1, 331–
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own:11 an autocratic sovereign (Henri II) had a 755 (Diane de
Poitiers) as in her own era (Louis XIV and Mme. de Montespan).
Conversely, an intersection between the cast of characters and the author’s
own intimate circle is sufficiently noteworthy as to deserve special emphasis.
Mme. de la Fayette’s close friends included Marie Jeanne Baptiste of Savoy-
Nemours,12 a great-granddaughter of Jacques, duke of Nemours, who is the
chief male protagonist of /&,0(. In the book, this duke’s love
interest, Mademoiselle de Chartres, becomes Madame de Clèves, and she is
the only character who is wholly fictitious. In order to extrapolate from this
remarkable conjunction, we must first look to actual history.
The famous love interest of the real Duke Jacques of Nemours was Françoise
de Rohan, a royal cousin. In 1556 they exchanged a vow of marriage before
witnesses, but the duke subsequently discarded her, leaving her pregnant.
The evolving scandal became inextricable from the religious strife that had
begun to engulf France. Françoise’s mother converted to Calvinism in 1558,
and Françoise thereafter became increasingly associated with the Huguenots.
Duke Jacques, conversely, was firmly attached to the ultra-Catholic party of
the Guises, all the more so when he married the duke of Guise’s widow, Anna
of Este, in 1566. The process leading to Françoise’s vindication took more
than twenty years and was notorious throughout Europe.13 The novel deve-
lops a completely different story in which Madame de Clèves falls in love with
11 In the author’s own words, “Et surtout ce que j’y trouve, c’est une parfaite
imitation du monde de la Cour et de la manière dont on y vit,” quoted by Pierre
Malandain, “Ecriture de l’histoire dans la Princesse de Clèves,” /4, no. 36,
1979 (48), 20.
12 Robert Oresko, “Maria Giovanna Battista of Savoy-Nemours (1644–1724):
Daughter, Consort, and Regent of Savoy,” in 9&&:;;<=:>:?!
*      ,, ed. Clarissa Campbell Orr (Cambridge University Press,
2004), 31–32.
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Duke Jacques after her marriage and is assailed by guilt.14 Seen in this light,
the novel appears to pursue  and will be examined later when
we come to that category.
The historical novel begins properly with Walter Scott. Sometimes called the
“stepfather of the Middle Ages,” he innovated by constructing and fore-
grounding historical settings, yet sometimes he drew on history simply to fuel
romance. More often than not his novels on medieval themes mix a few facts
with an array of assumptions in accord with the sensibilities of his readers. Is
this not the essence of romantic fiction? It was important to Scott neither
that the historical facts be represented faithfully, nor that all of the readers’
assumptions about medieval culture be valid. The famous ( (1820), set
in the late twelfth century, is rife with anachronisms.  (1825),
also set in that era, may enthrall the reader with its oriental themes, but on
inspection it is a poor excuse of a story. In 9+ (1823), with the
perhaps less alien backdrop of the fifteenth century, Scott sets his plot by
brazenly juxtaposing unrelated historical events, something of which the
reader remains blissfully ignorant. The historical distortions of @
(1821), an Elizabethan novel, are still more egregious. Scott contributed to
his times by publicizing the middle ages and by infusing history with
romantic appeal. But those uses no longer serve.
It is conceivable that relatively few of his historical novels show appreciable
historical understanding. Certainly one must look more toward Scottish
settings in the century or so preceding Scott—thus novels such as 3
13 Alphonse Baron de Ruble, /   *A:?B:=
:?CDE (Paris, 1883).
14 Accordingly, Valentine Poizat, /(4%&,0( (Paris, La Renais-
sance du livre, 1920), presented Anna of Este as the model for Mme. de Clèves.
Too many obvious counterarguments present themselves for this notion to hold
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 (1816), *% * (1817), and    (1818)—for
significant historical insight. The situation of Scott’s younger contemporary,
the American novelist James Fenimore Cooper, can be compared: /
 (1826), his 5F(, is set during the French and Indian
War only seventy years earlier and in terrain familiar to the author. Con-
versely, Mary Shelley addresses the dangers of anachronism directly: her
)&$ (1823) and #%# (1830), both set in the
later middle ages, involved intensive research. The latter book drew inspira-
tion from (,15 yet these novels are more concerned with characters
than with plot-lines.
An early divergence from the groundwork laid by Scott came in the form of
&& (1827) by Alessandro Manzoni. Here perhaps for the first time
in historical fiction are powerful presentations of the human condition and
explorations of human psychology. History provides not much more than a
backdrop, yet the author took pains to establish accuracy. Manzoni is also
noteworthy in that he wrote a discourse on the historical novel, including this
general observation on the author’s role:16
Both the purpose and design of the author are, as much as possible, to
make the subject and all the action so verisimilar with respect to the
time in which they are set that they would have seemed probable even
to people of that time, had the novel been written for them.
15 Her research included a self-effacing inquiry with Scott for information on Perkin
Warbeck; see Lidia Garbin, #%#: Walter Scott in the
Writings of Mary Shelley,” *     , issue 6, May 1997. Mary
Shelley remains in the throes of recognition and is omitted from Brian Hamnett,
( 5&!*&*
 (Oxford University Press, 2011).
16 Alessandro Manzoni, 3(A+2E, trans. Sandra
Bermann (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1984), 125.
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As Manzoni explains, the critics tended to focus on two issues: that such
works sow confusion and therefore present an obstacle to historical know-
ledge, or conversely that by distinguishing too carefully between fact and
invention the author destroys the artistic unity of the work. Alfred de Vigny,
whose ,8 (1826) is sometimes cited as the first historical novel in
France, supplied later editions of his work with a preface responding to such
criticisms. He suggested that history itself is in some measure a work of art, 17
which, while doing nothing to mollify the critics, serves his purpose well in
Honoré de Balzac set , (1829), the first novel in his “La Comédie
Humaine” series, merely thirty years in the past, but it places political and
military events in the foreground and must thus be classed as historical
fiction. Balzac thereafter moved towards realism and contemporary society,
but left a further historical novel, '%  ,     (1830–42),
offering a revision to the slanders frequently directed at that protagonist by
historians—a revision which Dumas subsequently placed again in doubt.
Victor Hugo, despite his reputation based on /%, wrote few novels
and only one mature work of historical fiction, %#+
(i.e., 5+, 1831), with little to place it directly in its assigned
period of the late fifteenth century. The Russian poet Alexander Pushkin
researched and realized a historical novel, ,& +$ (1836),
essentially a romance.
Scott’s mantle of historical novelist fell squarely on the shoulders of
Alexandre Dumas, who, even as he rode the crest of the 5
mania—the serializing of novels in daily newspapers—caught a glimpse of an
intellectual dimension. Historical fiction should contribute to the under-
standing of history; but more than that, it ought to contribute in a manner to
17 Alfred de Vigny, “Reflexions sur la vérité dans l’art,” in ,8   
G/6 (Paris, 1891), 1–10.
- 9 -
which it is uniquely suited. His sprawling novels span the history of France
from Renaissance to Revolution and beyond, often in profound detail. His
purposes included the education of his readers. History was made digestible
for them and to all intents and purposes was experienced by them. A custo-
dian of sorts by definition, he had a responsibility to represent history, if not
accurately, then at least faithfully. One possible platform for inaccuracy is
when the record of historical sources, which is imperfect, permits strong
inferences that find no place in a closely factual account.
The alteration of fact, when it arises, must be measured and justified against
the responsibility to represent faithfully. As a prime example, when Dumas
formed some of his famous novels around the fairly minor historical character
of d’Artagnan, he heavily fictionalized the protagonist and his associates; but
sticking to the truth would have been to no avail, since too little of the truth
was knowable. Rather, d’Artagnan was made to participate in a story that
captured the reader’s imagination and presented much that was genuine. In
these circumstances it cannot be said that the historical d’Artagnan was
betrayed, even if inconsistencies are apparent. The spirit of historical inquiry
was not violated: rather, it was enlivened.18
Dumas worked with collaborators, the most significant among them being
Auguste Maquet, with whose assistance almost all of the major novels were
written (from ,& of 1842 to 9# of 1850). The
question might arise as to which—author or assistant—was responsible for
18 Yet this case is an anomaly, since the key source, Gatien Courtilz de Sandras’
rambling 4      '$ (1700), is a semifictional first-person
narrative in which the relevant factual content is hearsay. It can be emphasized
that the third and by far largest part of Dumas’ d’Artagnan series, /)
-$+& (1847–50), is above all a depiction of Louis XIV in
the 1660s, a subject Dumas had studied comprehensively in preparing a historical
work entitled /6)0 (1844–45).
- 10 -
historical distortions. As early as 1845, however, there was a certain current
of opinion that Dumas was not the principal contributor and perhaps had
written not even a single word of the novels attributed to him.19 It is entirely
conceivable that Dumas’ personal appearance was behind this; for he was of
African-American slave background. Today we are familiar with the baseless
denial of Barack Obama’s birth on United States soil—a prerequisite for
holding the presidency—by the very man who would succeed him as U.S.
president. Doubts cast on Dumas’ authorship of his writings offer a
remarkable parallel. Racism undoubtedly existed, as President Chirac noted
in 2002, when Dumas’ ashes were transferred in a solemn procession to the
crypt of the Panthéon to lie alongside the tombs of Hugo and Zola.20
Any case for Dumas’ subordinate status in the production of these novels
must be founded on unsatisfactory documentation and specious inference.21
The better course by far is to consider the best of the novels, imagine their
genesis, and then decide whether anyone but Dumas could have conceived
them. / (1846, English translation usually titled ,
 H) is a particularly good candidate for this inquiry. It is certainly
among the best—always provided one uses an edition that in no way is
abridged—and it carries with it a visible thread of development allowing
insight into its genesis. For /   must be understood as
19 The pamphleteer Eugène de Mirecourt (an alias) received fifteen days in prison
and publication of his sentence in the newspapers. André Maurois, /  
+ (2 vols., Paris: Hachette, 1954), 1, 192–98.
20 Jacques Chirac, “Discours prononcé lors du transfert des cendres d’Alexandre
Dumas au Panthéon,” 30 November 2002.
21 As exemplified by Gustave Simon, %'+
  '$  8 (Paris: Crès, 1919). Bernard Fillaire, '  +
'$  8    4   (2d ed., Paris: Bartillat, 2010), pleads for
Maquet’s coauthorship, without considering the counterproposition, that the
novels were wholly organized, guided, and finished by Dumas.
- 11 -
standing in distinct relation to the works of Mme. de la Fayette, just as all
historical novels most likely connect in some manner with each of their
predecessors dealing with similar historical materials. We noted that Mme.
de la Fayette’s /&,0( is set in the earliest period of religious
strife in France. Several years previously, that same author had written /
& & (1662), a novella focusing on the central period of
the French wars of religion and notably on Duke Henri of Guise, a key
political figure in Dumas’ so-called Valois trilogy of which /    
 is the middle component.
A very similar connection must exist with  (1829), the play
that first brought Dumas riches and fame and is said to have inaugurated the
Romantic stage drama in France. Here Duke Henri of Guise is the villain of
the piece. One can only suppose that  was carefully con-
structed with Mme. de la Fayette’s thematic overlap in view; for the overlap
was obvious to those playgoers—and undoubtedly there were many22—who
were familiar with her writings. In conceiving this play Dumas lighted, in an
obscure history, upon the theme of Duke Henri’s revenge on his wife for
infidelity.23 But it is wrong to assume that, “not knowing very much about the
characters, he began research on them.”24 For the subject of Duke Henri’s
sentimental history was undoubtedly familiar to him from / &
22 William M. Reddy, (%,!(
 :>:I=:>I> (Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press,
1997), 59, finds / &  ,0( and Mme. de Staël’s ,  
(1807) to be trendsetters for social conduct in the period in question.
23   '+ A&0E, trans. A. F. Davidson (2 vols., London:
W. H. Allen, 1891), 2, 218.
24 Thus Irene Harrison Smith, “A Comparative Study of Alexandre Dumas Pere’s
        and Victor Hugo’s   + (M.A. thesis, Atlanta
University, 1968), 19.
- 12 -
It is only natural that Dumas should have looked ultimately towards the St.
Bartholemew’s Day Massacre at Paris in August 1572 as a likely theme for
historical fiction.  seems a veritable prelude to such an
undertaking, concentrating as it does on the cold cruelty of the vengeful duke,
so manifest at the time of the massacre. The trail leads25 to /$
(1845), his most dramatic and compact novel. While developing that project,
he was also turning once more to Henri III, and his collection of relevant
historical materials continued apace. Some maintain that Dumas did not
read much in the sources, the unearthing of useful details being left to
Maquet—allegedly “the little drudge who blew the dust off old books, turned
their delicate pages, and brought back interesting tidbits for the 7 to
turn into rousing good yarns.”26 Yet in his memoirs Dumas mentions his
principal sources for :27 they include—long before he made
use of literary assistants—estimable primary sources reflecting purposeful
inquiry and deep deliberation.
A historical personage whom Dumas no doubt discovered in his background
research for    provides arguably the most extraordinary
protagonist in his entire corpus. From the little genuine historical informa-
tion that is preserved, one at least knows that the royal jester Chicot was
unique in being no mere fool, but a gentleman of quality and martial bent.28
25 Prosper Mérimée’s novel ,8    0$    ,  6, with its evasive
treatment of the massacre, emerged a few days after Dumas’ drama premiered.
26 David R. Slavitt, +# '( (Evanston: Northwestern University
Press, 2011), 50.
27 See n. 23.
28  (&H'$ (Paris, 1669), 20–21. Antoine de la
Roche d’Anglerais, alias Chicot, is treated by Edmond Gautier, G
  / (Châteauroux, 1886), 173–77, Jules Mathorez,    ,
%       (Paris, 1914, extract from -    -%&), and
Richard Hillman, “(Im)politic Jesting: Lear’s Fool—and Henri III’s,”  6
- 13 -
Chicot’s wit and initiative carry the reader through much of /  
 His elaborate insults, hurled at all and sundry, cause the reader
paroxysms and are much more precise and self-contained than the Rabe-
laisian fare that surely inspired them. His wisdom, born of devotion to the
troubled king’s interests, eventually shines through as well. These assuredly
are passages from the hand of the 7.
The second protagonist, Bussy d’Amboise, of whose existence Dumas was well
aware since ,29 was a man widely celebrated in his day for
gallantry and bravery. As such he cannot reasonably survive the course of
this novel, but until he is dispatched he can be a paragon, challenging the
reader to imagine whether such a creature can really have existed, although
the memoir of the king’s sister, Marguerite, describes him in roughly those
terms.30 In experiencing avid enthusiasm for Bussy, the reader avoids envel-
opment by the dark aspects of the history—the hubris, the treason, the
espionage—all well enough documented in historical sources. That is to the
good, for actions have motives that are not always plain to view.
To test the hypothesis of Bussy’s sincerity, Dumas must to all intents and
purposes invent Diane de Méridor, who, through ruse and duress, is forced to
become the wife of the count of Monsoreau. Clearly the real Bussy was
romantically involved with the real Monsoreau’s wife, of whom little is known
except that, unlike Diane, she was already a young widow when she married
Monsoreau.31 And far from being assassinated in Paris at a house on the Rue
Saint-Antoine, Bussy actually met his end at La Coutancière, Monsoreau’s
4J, 2011, 203–16.
29 As n. 23.
30 Marguerite de Valois, 4  , ed. Eliane Viennot (Publications de
l’Université de Saint-Etienne, 2004), 92–96.
31 Jacques Levron, /(4%    (Angers, 1938).
This work remains a fanciful demi-history.
- 14 -
provincial castle; his body was left exposed in the moat to mark the killing as
justifiable homicide, and for several years thereafter his father sought to
bring Monsoreau to account.32 The Bussy of / could not
die so, not merely because the author was testing an optimistic appraisal of
his character, but chiefly by contrast because of his pessimistic hypothesis
regarding the king’s brother, the duke of Anjou, to whom he attributes the
death blow. This is a more significant historical hypothesis because it is an
invitation for the reader to consider the historical record in that light. For the
character interpretations of historical fiction can assist our assessments of
important historical individuals, where only limited historical source mate-
rial is available.33 The alteration of history in connection with Bussy’s death
is not evidence of the author’s insouciance as one might think, but rather of a
genuine solicitude for the problems of interpreting and assimilating history.
We shall never know the small ways in which reality resembled Dumas’
fiction;34 but the fiction at least opens to possible insights. It is not simply
invention, but the product of specific calculations involving what can be
known, what can be inferred, and what can be imagined.
The mental processes are readily observable in the “duel of the mignons,”
which forms the closing chapters of /. This combat took
place on 27 April 1578 and pitted the king’s favorite Quélus and two of his
intimates against three others among whom Antraguet is said by the chron-
icler Pierre de l’Estoile to be a favorite of the house of Guise. Whereas
historians invariably discuss this duel as a proxy battle between the king and
32 André Joubert, /, -'% $('G
(Angers, Paris, 1885).
33 Much more relating to the duke of Anjou’s character is presented in the sequel,
/858 (1847), as Diane de Méridor wreaks her vengeance on him.
34 This ostensibly is the subject matter of Slavitt’s “novel” (see n. 26), in which the
author conjectures that Monsoreau’s wife threw herself at Bussy on account of her
husband’s habitual brutality.
- 15 -
the duke of Guise, Dumas apparently recognized certain deficiencies in that
viewpoint. Such open warfare between the king and Guise was unlikely, for
the Guises, as is well established, were hatching a grand conspiracy, which
for the time being required a semblance of amity with the king. Duke
François of Anjou, the king’s brother, conversely, was a constant rival: would
not the opponents of Quélus have been his men? There was a certain fluidity
among the cliques; earlier Antraguet had been the king’s man, as had Bussy
at one time. In the duel of the mignons, Schomberg supposedly fought and
died against the king’s friends, although it is known that at an earlier time
Schomberg had been one of their number.35 This last detail encouraged
Dumas (mistakenly?) to place Schomberg at the side of Quélus here and
throughout the novel. Meanwhile, Antraguet need not have been the duke of
Guise’s follower in order to qualify as—following Pierre de l’Estoile—a
“favorite of the house of Guise,” for he may well have had a liaison with the
duke’s sister, just as he had earlier, it was rumored, with the king’s sister
Certainly the period is not as well documented as one might desire, and
Dumas was obliged to wade through a quantity of dubious source material.
Sources that were not contemporaneous with the events were likely to intro-
duce inaccuracies and falsities. Even contemporaneous sources might contain
35 Nicolas Le Roux, / ( !$  &
) (Seyssel: Champs Vallon, 2000), 210. The king’s friendship for Quélus and
Maugiron, both fallen in the duel of the mignons, was legendary.
36 Antraguet was fairly widely reported as a womanizer, and although there is no
clear corroboration of his liaison with Guise’s sister Catherine, duchess of
Montpensier, Pierre de l’Estoile preserves a satire in which Catherine describes
herself thus: “My body has no other desires than lubricity and folly, and my mind
is solely devoted to diabolic designs and plots.” Antónia Szabari, / *$
!      *    5   (Stanford University
Press, 2010), 202.
- 16 -
unnaturally skewed standpoints: this is particularly the case for the time of
the wars of religion. In many situations, furthermore, chroniclers themselves
could not lay claim to the entire truth behind the nuanced subjects on which
they reported. It is remarkable that Dumas could navigate the morass with
such equanimity and productivity. In some cases his interpretations have
even influenced works of genuine history. His depictions of the jester Chicot
were convincing enough to be taken wholesale into a nineteenth-century
work on the history of court fools;37 and a recent academic discussion accepts
without comment that the opponents of Quélus in the duel of the mignons
were supporters of Duke François of Anjou.38
As to the mode of Dumas’ collaboration with Maquet, it has been described to
considerable effect in Herbert Gorman’s %8:39
Pushed by newspaper editors, driven by contracts and urged by his all-
embracing ambition, he created his peculiar manner of composition, of
engaging assistants to do the rough work for him, to fetch and carry, to
assemble material, to place before him the chaos from which he evolved
his absorbing narratives. He was like Napoleon creating campaigns and
ordering his maréchaux to carry out specific orders. He was like the
great Italian painters who permitted their apprentices to paint in the
It is especially when one considers the sheer number of large-scale projects in
hand during the years of the Maquet collaboration that one comes to realize
how necessary was Maquet’s participation to the success of these ventures.
37 Doran, , (London, 1858), 281–88.
38 Katherine Crawford, “From Reception to Assassination: French Negotiations of
‘Platonic Love,’” in #$, ed.
Lewis C. Seifert and Rebecca M. Wilkin (London, New York: Routledge, 2016),
39 Herbert Gorman, %8 '+ (New York: Farrar &
Rinehart, 1929), 316.
- 17 -
As the collaboration matured, Dumas would have reposed considerable trust
in him, leading the assistant eventually to wonder whether he was actually
coauthoring these novels. After Dumas succumbed to financial troubles
brought on by his extreme conviviality, Maquet rather duplicitously pressed
this issue in the courts, thereby augmenting his status among Dumas’
creditors, but losing his bid for recognition as coauthor. Maquet was no equal
participant and certainly no ghostwriter (or 0$, to cite the appalling term
for that function in current French), but $& His
many writings under his own name, it may be added, have amounted to little
in the scheme of things.40
The worth of Dumas—outside his natural gift for storytelling—resides in his
recognition that the historical record is deficient at the interpersonal level.
Fiction and historical truth can therefore intersect with some freedom and to
some profit, as long as one continues to strive for a representation of real
history. Sometimes it may be necessary to achieve dramatic effect by dis-
torting the factual basis. Thus, in / Duke François of
Anjou joins the conspiracy of the Guises and is duped by them; his treason
exposed, he becomes a prisoner in his apartments in the Louvre, but is able to
escape through a second-story window and fly to Anjou, where he gathers his
forces; the queen mother comes to Angers and negotiates his peace with the
king. These several events are not documented. Dumas borrows freely from
other events in the lives of these individuals,41 and his readers’ digestion of
40 Harold Orel, )/, (London, Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1984),
25, speaks of “pandering to the insatiable craving for amusement at the expense of
art” in reference to Maquet’s play of 1851, ).
41 The duke’s departure through a second-floor window occurred in February 1578
and is recounted, e.g., in Léo Mouton, -'%
&0 4 (Paris: Hachette, 1912), 171–75. Queen Catherine
journeyed to the duke in May, but they met in a village some distance from
Angers. See Mack P. Holt, +# 'G8$$$
- 18 -
history is thereby served—far better than if sheer invention had prevailed.
More significantly, he draws attention to questions for consideration. In
particular, what was Anjou’s connection to the League in December 1576
when the king thwarted the Guises by placing himself at the head of that
ultra-Catholic movement? Dumas, in addition to stressing the farcical aspects
of these developments, advances the plausible notion that Anjou aspired to
that position.
In a novel, to be sure, fictionalizing is permissible. On the one hand, unin-
terrupted factuality is not expected; and on the other, the historical record
does not include enough details to supply a fully coherent narrative. Some of
Dumas’ historical novels cannot be analyzed profitably in this manner. For
example, his lesser Valois novels— + (1847) and $
+#( (1853)—digress from historical facts in fundamental ways
and are best described as potboiler romance, despite their presentation of
large quantities of real history. It is conceivable that in these books Dumas
vented his frustration at gaps in the source record preventing an appraisal of
particular individuals. His greatest novels, conversely, are not merely well
researched, they are constructed for the sake of, and as an encounter with,
the historical record. The question was often asked: how did he produce such
a vast quantity of work in the 1840s? The answer is simply that most of these
projects had been gestating for years. This he demonstrated implicitly in
1845 by laying wager that it would take no more than 72 hours for him to
compose in writing the entire first volume of / (5*$,
scheduled for three volumes: he finished with six hours to spare.42 Only with
long and intensive preparation was such a feat possible.
*$ (Cambridge University Press, 1986), 100.
42 Cf. F. W. J. Hemmings, @$ * '  ' +
(London: Hamish Hamilton, 1979), 117–18.
- 19 -
In the mid-nineteenth century Dumas dominated the production of historical
fiction, just as Scott had before him. Among important writers in the English
language in these years, Charles Dickens contributed historical novels in the
form of the prosaic -% *$ (1841) and the sublime '   
, (1859), both set in the late eighteenth century and neither making
much of a mark by way of historical interpretation. William Makepeace
Thackeray provided  /#  - / (1844), )  (1848),
and  (1852), none of which look into a distant
past or develop a significant historical context. Setting themselves apart from
those works are ,   (1861), by Charles Reade, and
* (1863), by George Eliot (Mary Anne Evans): both authors sought to
generate insight into late-medieval Europe through extraordinary attention
to detail. Also of large note is Nathaniel Hawthorne’s     /
(1850), set in the seventeenth-century Massachusetts Bay colony and ex-
ploring the strictures of Puritan society. The author could rely on among
other things family lore, given his descent from one of the judges of the Salem
witchcraft trials.43
It is unclear whether Charles Kingsley made truly distinctive contributions
to historical fiction.44 Of a handful of popular historical novels in a literary
corpus otherwise mostly religious in character, & (1853) is perhaps his
most estimable, but is well recognized for playing fast and loose with factual
detail.45 It is nevertheless likely to have sparked Gustave Flaubert in his
43 James R. Mellow,  (Boston: Houghton Mifflin,
1980), 10–11.
44 This must also probably be said of the historical fiction of two younger and
otherwise exceptional British authors: Arthur Conan Doyle and Robert Louis
45 Leslie Stephen, /% (2d. ed., 3 vols., London: Smith, Elder, 1892),
3, 56: “I have no doubt that ‘Hypatia’ is fundamentally and hopelessly inaccurate,
and that a sound historian would shudder at innumerable anachronisms.”
- 20 -
creation of %K (1862), a novel that seeks insight into the period of
Carthaginian power, a historical blind spot when considered alongside
Carthage’s light-suffused foe, the Roman Republic. By vividly surrounding
his interpretations with meticulous detail and careful source readings,
Flaubert wove history and fantasy into a single fabric. In both & and
%K the protagonist is eventually hacked to death by a mob. But
%K is an achievement that is often neglected, and it occupies a
recognizable place in the tradition of Dumas.
The Promethean figure of Tolstoy then follows, supplying a historical novel
against which all subsequent efforts can be measured. It should not be over-
looked, however, that  documented, for want of a better word,
the Eurocentrism of Russia (or at least of its upper class). This novel served
national cultural awareness, and in that regard Tolstoy was followed by J. P.
Jacobsen, whose .%% (1876) focuses on a seventeenth-century
Danish noblewoman, and by the Polish author Henryk Sienkiewicz. The
latter’s     (1884),  +$ (1886), and 
(1888) explore, more through the lives of the people than through specific
events, the unique historical situation of the Polish Lithuanian Common-
wealth in the period of the Cossack uprisings and subsequent wars with
Sweden, Muscovy, and the Ottoman empire. The Nobel Prize for Literature
was awarded to Sienkiewicz in 1905 “because of his outstanding merits as an
epic writer.” Historical fiction had come of age.
Dystopia and Alternative History
Dystopia begins roughly in 1895 with H. G. Wells’   , but
this book does not fully distinguish itself from science fiction—a category to
which so much is owed to Jules Verne—since its principal subject matter is
the time travel itself, not the specific future society visited by the Time
Traveller, who experiences only a brief encounter. For the original dystopian
novel concentrating on a future society in the grips of tyranny one looks to
- 21 -
Jack London’s      (1908). This was followed by Yevgeny Zam-
yatin’s  (1921, U.S. edition 1924). From a lengthy list of subsequent
dystopian works, the best known are -(     (Aldous Huxley,
1932), :C>I (George Orwell, 1949), I?: (Ray Bradbury, 1953), and
  (Margaret Atwood, 1985). Each utilizes a speculative
scheme of future history with no necessary connection to the present.46 These
works nevertheless warn of the dangers of authoritarian repression, some-
times accepted in conscious choice—a future somehow gone wrong—and that
field is ripe for exploration.
There is now quite a variety of novels exploring alternatives to actual history,
usually charting a course from recognized reality into the altered situation. 
,&& (1935) by Nobel laureate Sinclair Lewis was perhaps the
first such work. More recently, the rewriting of World War II is a favorite
task, involving drastic alterations of the outcome of the war and observations
on the nature and effect of authoritarian government. Such efforts in fiction
are well characterized as “alternative history.” #$ (Stephen Fry,
1996) chronicles a scientific undertaking involving traveling back in time and
using chemical means to prevent Hitler’s birth from occurring, ultimately
with dire and grotesque consequences. $' (Philip Roth,
2004) speculates about a Lindbergh presidency and its possible role in
introducing institutionalized anti-Semitism. The number of interesting
examples of alternative history could be multiplied many times over.
Alternative history has even found some theoretical grounding. Recently, an
impressive group of historical scholars contributed to a volume entitled
). These essays each consider a premise, for example, What if
there had been no American Revolution? Each counterfactual brings with it
further counterfactuals, both before and after the fact. What conditions could
46     , however, meticulously develops the dystopian scenario
from real circumstances, as discussed below.
- 22 -
have averted the American Revolution? Would certain subsequent develop-
ments still have taken place? Such counterfactual scenarios “are simulations
based on calculations of plausible outcomes in a chaotic world”47 and as such
can be profitably studied.48
Fantasy History
In all good conscience one must step beyond alternative history, however, and
conceive of a broad category, . Sometimes alternative history is
described as fantasy history, but there are pressing reasons for making some
clear distinctions. Fantasy history does not require precise counterfactuals to
explore, since the departure from perceived reality is often self-impelled. In
many works, the historical landscape is altered not so much in order to
describe the change of scene with its attendant course of events or attendant
life circumstances, but to facilitate points being made about reality, whether
present or past. Alternative history is an adventure. Fantasy history by
contrast is often an exploration. Alternative history and dystopia are genres,
the representatives of which sometimes can be subsumed in the category of
fantasy history. Other works in that category may fit entirely different genre
Is fantasy history perhaps too broad a category to be of genuine use? By no
means. Many books may appear at first sight to claim membership in this
category, but fail elementary tests. They may simply belong in the categories
of adventure, fantasy, or children’s literature: to accept fantasy history as a
47 Niall Ferguson, “Introduction,” in )    '(    ,5
, ed. Ferguson (New York: Fall River, 2009, first published in 1997), 85.
48 Several distinguished books of the “If Only” school are noted by Ian Morris, “The
Opium War and the Humiliation of China,” L#-#*(, 2 July
2018. They deal with the Opium War, the acceptance of slavery in colonial
Virginia, and the participation of Britain in World War I.
- 23 -
useful category, one must agree to distinguish it from lesser categories. We
already undertake such distinctions for historical fiction, if we follow the
advice of Alessandro Manzoni—quoted above—regarding a historical presen-
tation that would pass muster with anyone living in the period that is
involved. The great novels of Dumas meet that requirement in basic terms
and indeed exceed it. They meet criteria for serious historical fiction. The
criteria for fantasy history have likewise to do with an abiding purpose and
the manner of its realization. The book will be solidly rooted in a historical
past, or present, or near future, and will develop a fantasy designed to
illuminate past or present.
Fantasy history can already claim at least one certifiable classic. The most
impressive literary candidate for this category is probably 
$ (1931–40, published posthumously in 1967) by Mikhail Bulgakov.
One can accept that it is structured as a Menippean satire, as is often
asserted,49 to judge especially from the upside-down order of things. Yet the
book clearly fulfills the condition of being grounded in reality. This is estab-
lished in several of the early chapters, where typical scenes in Moscow of the
1930s are set. The fiction then places the underlying reality—namely, the all-
pervasive authoritarian repression that is barely even alluded to—in stark
relief: a prominence through absence. In short, the manifestation of Satan in
the guise of Professor Woland seems almost unremarkable in such a setting,
given the Stalinist purges and denunciations that never ceased in the Soviet
Union of that era. Interwoven with the activity of Woland and his demonic
band is the story of the Crucifixion rewritten from an atheist point of view:
this seems to demonstrate the importance of history (versus religion) to the
author’s conception. A lurid Satan’s ball is based on a voluptuous United
States embassy party actually held in 1935, though with a vastly different
49 Most effectively by Ellendea Proffer, “Bulgakov’s       $:
Genre and Motif,” in $!',,&, ed. Laura
D. Weeks (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1996), 98–100.
- 24 -
guest list that included the author: one might see in this conjunction the
international circumstances—the rivalry of political systems, and was either
rival worthy of esteem?—that lay behind the suffering of so many Soviet
citizens during this period. The events more often than not are supernatural,
increasingly so (if that were possible) as the book progresses, but they
suggest the trauma of society. The essential message throughout is that no
end to this appalling state of affairs can be envisaged—and that message
even applies to any salutary effect the novel might have, since Bulgakov
entertained no hope whatsoever of seeing it into print.
A less obvious but just as eminent candidate has already been introduced. I
mentioned Mme. de la Fayette’s /&,0( as an outlier in the
development of historical fiction, for this seventeenth-century work is like
nineteenth-century historical novels in the author’s conscious production of
historical context. For reasons far from clear, however, the central character
of Mme. de Clèves is not historical. We saw that Mme. de la Fayette’s circle of
friends included a great-granddaughter of Duke Jacques of Nemours, who is
the male protagonist of the book. In general, the members of this circle would
have read of Duke Jacques’ appalling treatment of Françoise de Rohan, a
cause célèbre of the later sixteenth century. They would have been aware,
moreover, that Duke Jacques’ stepson, Duke Henri of Guise, was married to
Catherine de Clèves—from whom the heroine’s surname seems to derive, and
who remarkably enough became a key figure in Dumas’ ,
which revolves around the assassination of her admirer by order of Duke
Henri. With these facts well in view,50 they would have asked the question:
50 Janet Letts, MNONPQRST U MVWNX U VP U YMR U ZSVP[NXXN U QN U \]^WNX_ (Charlottesville:
Rookwood Press, 1998), 60, sees the general readership’s awareness of recent
French history as considerable and includes the following words of Mme. de
Sévigné: “We are reading the history of France [...]. I want to get it straight at
least as much as Roman history, in which I have neither relatives nor friends; at
least here you find names you know” (at 44).
- 25 -
Why has the author produced so many interesting historical details, yet
altered the most crucial information in so peculiar a manner? Part of the
answer springs from the page: the heroine enacts the role of a woman left
largely unmolested by the men with whom she is involved, unlike so often in
real life. This in itself may justify the fantasy. Yet scholarship on /
&,0( is deep and extensive, and I do not wish to press here a
particular interpretation.
The fantasy should challenge the reader to imagine the likelihood of various
possibilities raised by current problems and project the conceivable course of
humanity from that point forward. If the forward course remains nebulous in
/&,0(, three novels fulfill that condition in a most basic way:
Mary Shelley’s / (1826), Nevill Shute’s 3- (1957), and
John Feffer’s & (2016). Admittedly each develops a postapo-
calyptic theme, producing a strong sense of commonality with dystopia and
(to some extent) alternative history. A distinguishing characteristic is the
grounding in real experience: the appalling circumstances addressed in these
novels might rapidly proceed from a present that the reader well knows.
Rapid decline is both the raison d’être and the admonitory message of the
book by Feffer, who in an interview has described it strictly as dystopian. 51
The narrative is anchored formally to the present through a distinct con-
catenation, however, and one should argue accordingly that & is
a more general exercise in fantasy history. Its admonitory message concerns
the potential of climate change to undermine the health of political systems.
A reasonable candidate for inclusion in the category of fantasy history is
'$$ (1957) by Ayn Rand. Indeed, this classification might lend a
certain literary legitimacy to a work sometimes disparaged for its advance-
ment of extreme libertarian ideology. The criteria seem well met. The novel is
51 Mark Karlin in , published 26 March 2017:
- 26 -
grounded in reality, albeit a reality that is slowly becoming unhinged. The
fantasy, whereby talented capitalists are spirited away to safety by the mys-
terious H. as a form of “strike against those who would strike,” is full
blown and purports to comment on human progress. The verdict has not been
reached on whether that comment has validity, however, and in certain ways
this book trips over its own feet. Its theme of railroad capitalism is drawn
directly from Garet Garrett’s heroic capitalist novel,   +(, of 1922,
where brilliant investor . restores a mighty railroad to promi-
nence. One wonders in turn whether either book is connected with 
., the pseudonym of Luigi Natoli, author of an Italian historical novel,
- (1915), which is intimately tied to Sicilian Mafia culture but in
ways that remain thoroughly mysterious.52 A connection with the Scottish
novelist and entrepreneur John Galt (1779–1839)53 would have been limited
to Ayn Rand simply having heard that name. Even so, ' $$ is a
considerable work, and it claims literary legitimacy under the fantasy-history
Other well-known novels of fantasy history include   $ (1947) by
Albert Camus, a nightmare fantasia without a basis in recorded history. Its
extreme scenario—rampant bubonic plague in a modern city—is a stage on
which the variety of human behavior can be enacted and closely observed,
52 Very little exists in English on this theme. Daragh O’Connell, “Mafia and
Antimafia: Sciascia and Borsellino in Vincenzo Consolo’s /&,”
in '     
,, ed. Stephen Gundle and Lucia Rinaldi (New York, Basingstoke: Palgrave
Macmillan, 2007), 133, 135, 138, alludes to the - as dispensing summary
justice in Palermo of lore, but is unable to suggest background material other than
Natoli’s novel.
53 John Galt could have been addressed earlier here in the context of Sir Walter
Scott. At least one of his works must be called a historical novel: *$.2`
 ,( (1823).
- 27 -
with the possibility of implications for philosophy. Whether as a metaphor for
the perils of societal complacency or as a symbolic parallel to the coming of
fascism, the plague undoubtedly plays an admonitory role in the book. Julien
Gracq’s /*($  (1951, translated in English as  3&&$
) leans towards Surrealism, but begs inclusion in the fantasy-history
category with its imaginary countries in a continuous state of estrangement
and impending hostility. A credible extension of the author’s reality, the
fantasy is pursued at length for the purpose of reflecting back on that reality.
David Foster Wallace’s widely studied  H (1996) suffers from an
absence of clarity in the relative roles of the present and the fantasy. A
gargantuan and labyrinthine work, it allegedly is “cruel to its readers, but for
the readers’ own good.”54 Whether the fantasy-history category can be
usefully applied must be left undecided here, although the basic concept of
the book allows that it has a place.
The inclusion of Philip Winsor’s * (2002) calls for little explanation.
In the author’s own words, this novel brings together “outstanding and dis-
cordant elements of the last century, the graces and attainments of the period
blended with its hideousnesses and incongruities.” The cast of characters
develops from real-life examples, “some who were admirable because they
tried to make new lives for themselves and left the past behind, others who
seemed pitiful and trivial because their lives were dedicated to reclaiming a
long dead past.” The story of these characters and their imaginary &
advances in a matrix of tightly worked tension. The conclusion leaves the
reader musing over the relative merits of constitutional monarchy and
republican democracy.
Although * may be assigned to a fantasia genre, Winsor’s 
 is decidedly a psychological thriller. As a precondition thereof, one
54 Marshall Boswell, "$+( (Columbia: University of
South Carolina Press, 2003), 120.
- 28 -
never senses a departure from the domain of the real present, near future, or
recent past. The underlying fantasy concerns U.S. policy towards Vierwinden,
a fictional Caribbean island-nation. In some instances the fantasy is supplied
from genuine but unrelated historical events. Cold war spy recruitment is
grafted onto the protagonist’s Harvard scene and the development of the
character of the “Guy,” a malign void and would-be apparatchik, who seeks
cover from conventional surroundings while recruiting for a secret subversive
movement. The organization he serves is a techno-fascist amalgam of the
Ben-Carson-meets-Sovereign-Citizens-and-QAnon variety; its design is to
penetrate the intellectual core of national existence. The Guy’s dogged
determination is attributable to his enormous satisfaction in the rewards,
thus a desire to fill the void. One thinks of Hannah Arendt’s “banality of evil”
Dom, who provides much of the story as first-person narrator, is by nature
suspicious of those who appear to have, or aspire to, an excess of power. He
emerges from adolescent introspection to engage in deep-rooted questioning
of the condition of society. His development is described to great effect
through his own voice. Whereas controversies and questions confronted by
Dom bear a strong resemblance to the Edward Snowden matter, the author
pays close attention to the evolution of Dom’s character, and this is a
fundamental difference. Little is understood of how Snowden’s life course
brought him to his moment of decision, other than a general impression of
high intelligence coupled with good intentions. The public seems more
interested in opinion polls as to whether he did right or wrong. By contrast,
Dom early becomes an object of surveillance and is victimized in various
ways. It seems almost as though he is targeted because he has a natural
inclination to seek out causes and effects.
Like Snowden, Dom eventually passes into self-imposed exile and sets in
motion the presentation of his extensive evidence of the involvement of the
Administration in the suppression of rights, in surveillance, in mind control,
- 29 -
in subversion of foreign governments, and in assassination. The shift of focus
to Vierwinden, a client state of the U.S., brings into relief the inexorable
tendency of fascism towards oppression. It is one of a number of factors that
join in a universal message of admonition regarding societal complacency and
its natural outcome in authoritarian subversion.
differs moderately from the Snowden matter in terms of its focus:
not just surveillance, but suppression of freedom of speech is at issue in a
society where, in the later stages of the narrative, authoritarian subversion is
taking hold. Yet it must be admitted that freedom of speech came under
attack in America soon after the World Trade Center destruction. For anyone
who has had his or her international mail opened in such circumstances, it
must still be an issue.
There is undoubtedly a frightening aspect here. As the presidential election
of 2016 approached, I began to worry that the  scenario for secret
and subversive organizations might correspond to a reality involving perhaps
one or another (or even most) of the Republican presidential hopefuls. Later,
as our cruel fate sank in—the fate of having a “three-million-vote loser”
actually step into the presidency—the predictive power of this book with
respect to the Snowden matter began to impress me. As the subversion shows
its guises and stratagems daily with ever-increasing clarity, I am drawn to
the admonitory message of the book.
Our course of social progress may somehow emerge intact from the current
predicament. Even then the message of  will remain articulate and
timely. Nor should it be indispensable to imbibe !'$ (2018)
by Madeleine Albright in order to prepare effectively against the fascist
onslaught, however desirable that may be. Winsor’s book issues the same
warning in a simplistic, emotional form, allowing readers to rely on their own
imaginative processes in constructing lines of defense and devising strategies
of resistance.
- 30 -
In Conclusion
This inquiry began with    pigeonholed in the genre &(
 and sub-genre (  , a classification that obscured its
fundamental character as a psychological thriller. The sub-genre was not
accurate, since the book involves no grand departure from the known course
of history, but develops its themes alongside recent known history. More
importantly, the book has characteristics suggesting  as the
appropriate broad category, in which works of “alternative history” will not
qualify if they are merely adventure and fail to develop a message in clear
relation to present circumstances. Whether the “genre of speculative fiction”
has anything to contribute to this inquiry is far from clear. Most recently that
label has come to denote a “meta-generic fuzzy set supercategory,” defined
“not by clear boundaries but by resemblance to prototypical examples.”55 If
the book, through its grounding in reality, finds no “speculative” prototype,
then the entire taxonomy must fall by the wayside.
Conversely, Margaret Atwood describes her dystopian writings as speculative
fiction in order to distinguish them from science fiction. As set out in her
introduction to the 2017 printing of  , all elements of
culture that are incorporated into the story have genuine parallels, whether
in the present or in history.56 The story does not depend on extraordinary
technological advancement imagined for a distant future, but maintains a
thorough grounding in reality. The only major difference in approach is the
rift with reality, which is seemingly complete in , but as
yet unconsummated in . Seen in this light, these books appear to a
cohabit a single category. The terminology itself is not especially important:
55 Marek Oziewicz, “Speculative Fiction,” in 3*&!/5
, http://literature., online publication date: March 2017.
56 Margaret Atwood,   , with a New Introduction (New York:
Anchor, 2017), xiii–xix.
- 31 -
obviously a work of fantasy history can be called speculative fiction without
losing any of its merit, and vice versa.
For the sake, not merely of argument, but of clarity, the taxonomy advocated
here is that  may represent a broad category existing alongside
. In both categories one observes the endeavor to contribute,
through historical approaches, something to the real and known, whether it
be the documented past or the experienced present. In both categories, too,
one should deny admittance to books that do not aspire to entry. A host of
writings might be discussed casually as historical fiction, yet they are merely
adventure, romance, or children’s literature. In a similar manner, George R.
R. Martin’s ' $     (1996–present), from which the block-
buster television series . is drawn, bulges with disarticulated
and obfuscated references to known historical circumstances; develops as
though it were a history; and even involves imaginary historical chronicles—
yet it is fantasy simple, for it has no relevance to reality, unless of course as
substitute history.
- 32 -
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Dorothy Smith, an elderly and somewhat portly woman, presented to her local emergency room with chest pain and shortness of breath. An extensive evaluation revealed no evidence for coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, or pneumonia. A chest radiograph demonstrated a large air-fluid level posterior to her heart shadow, a finding that all thoracic surgeons recognize as being consistent with a large paraesophageal hiatal hernia. The patient had not had similar symptoms previously. Her discomfort was relieved after a large eructation, and she was discharged from the emergency room a few hours later. When seen several weeks later in an outpatient setting by an experienced surgeon, who reviewed her history and the data from her emergency room visit, she was told that surgery is sometimes necessary to repair such hernias. Her surgeon indicated that the objectives of such an intervention would include relief of symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, and postprandial fullness, and prevention of catastrophic complications of giant paraesophageal hernia, including incarceration, strangulation, and perforation. Ms. Smith, having recovered completely from her episode of a few weeks earlier, declined intervention, despite her surgeon’s strenuous encouragement.
Starting from the premise that private feelings cannot be contained or eliminated from public deliberation or action, this text embarks on an inquiry into the influence of honour on behaviour in 19th-century France. It considers how French society was goverend by a strict code of honour and that males in particular were vunerable to acute feelings of shame, while any other feelings referred to as "sentiment" were considered the special domain of women. Examining the realms of both marriage and the public sphere, the author uncovers the feelings of shame and self-esteem, fear and desire, that entered in an unperceived yet fundamental way into the sense of self that many elite men and women worked out in the course of their lives.
The original title of the English publication (1982) is The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail
  • Michael Baigent
  • Richard Leigh
  • Henry Lincoln
  • Holy Blood
  • Holy Grail
Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, and Henry Lincoln, Holy Blood, Holy Grail (New York: Dell, 1983). The original title of the English publication (1982) is The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail.
A Comparative Study of Alexandre Dumas Pere's
  • Thus Irene Harrison Smith
Thus Irene Harrison Smith, "A Comparative Study of Alexandre Dumas Pere's
The Duke's Man. A Novel
  • David R Slavitt
David R. Slavitt, The Duke's Man. A Novel (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 2011), 50.
The king's friendship for Quélus and Maugiron
  • Nicolas Le Roux
Nicolas Le Roux, La faveur du roi: mignons et courtisans au temps des derniers Valois (Seyssel: Champs Vallon, 2000), 210. The king's friendship for Quélus and Maugiron, both fallen in the duel of the mignons, was legendary.
Antraguet was fairly widely reported as a womanizer, and while there is no clear corroboration of his liaison with Guise's sister Catherine, Pierre de l'Estoile preserves a satire in which Catherine described herself thus
Antraguet was fairly widely reported as a womanizer, and while there is no clear corroboration of his liaison with Guise's sister Catherine, Pierre de l'Estoile preserves a satire in which Catherine described herself thus: "My body has no other desires than lubricity and folly, and my mind is solely devoted to diabolic designs and plots." Antónia Szabari, Less Rightly Said: Scandals and Readers in Sixteenth-Century France (Stanford University Press, 2010), 202.
The History of Court Fools
  • Doran
Doran, The History of Court Fools (London, 1858), 281-8.