Plurality of genres in Swifts Waterland

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Plurality of genres in Swift’s Waterland At the beginning of his novel Graham Swift gives the definition of “historia”, in which he points out that the word has three possible meanings: “1. inquiry, investigation, learning. 2. a) a narrative of past events, history. b) any kind of narrative: account, tale, story.” These concepts foreshadow the main subjects covered by the novel. The narrator attempts to answer philosophical and existential question “why?” and by telling them story of his family and life, convince his pupils that such quest for truth and identity may be interesting. The reader focuses not only on the complicated plot of Waterland but also on the act of storytelling which mainly due to the plurality of genres employed by the author points at the textuality of the novel. Tom Crick’s narrative frequently switches from the scientific tone of history lecture to more informal and familiar style of a tale told not from a professional but from a private perspective. Consequently, Crick’s lectures resemble or even become family saga with elements of a gothic novel and a detective story. These genres, popular in the Victorian times, were created inter alia with a view to describing and understanding reality and history. In such works verisimilitude was one of the crucial features. Thus, the realism and detailed descriptions of well-known places led to confusion between the real and the fictitious. As Linda Hutcheon claims in her essay, the clear division between literature and history appeared only in the twentieth century and was soon blurred by the postmodern writers. The current tendency of historiography is to stress the similarities and common features of history and literature (71 – 6). Swift’s novel can be placed among other works dealing with historiographic metafiction due to the fact that “it installs totalizing order, only to contest it, by its
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