The Journal of Historical Fictions

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JHF 4:1, 2022

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Tony Keen

Editorial: Living in changing times

In his British Science Fiction Award-winning book It’s the End of the World: But what are we really afraid of?, Adam Roberts use Thomas Bayes’ Theorem to argue that, statistically, the end of the world is not likely to be in the immediate future, but that it becomes more probable in the longer term, perhaps a century or two (2020, 16-22). In the summer of 2021, as forest fires swept through Turkey, Greece, southern Italy, Provence, Lebanon, Israel, California and Siberia, following 2020 fires in Australia, India, China and elsewhere, the idea that the world is in imminent danger for a man-made climate catastrophe becomes really rather easy to believe. As I write this, the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) has just formally begun in Glasgow. There is much big talk, but it is hard to believe that such talk will actually result in action. Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic has not gone away, despite the government of the UK often acting as if it has. As Juliette Harrisson noted in the editorial to the last issue (2020), we live in a time that will be looked back on as pivotal in the history of the planet.

JHF 4:1, 2022, 1—3Download article as pdf.

Gabriel Duckels

Popular music and AIDS Crisis Revisitation in Young Adult novels

: This article considers the uses of popular music in three contemporary Young Adult novels about the first decades of the AIDS crisis in the United States of America: Carol Rifka Brunt’s Tell the Wolves I’m Home (2012), Abdi Nazemian’s Like a Love Story (2019) and Helene Dunbar’s We Are Lost and Found (2019). In particular, the last two are notable as the first Young Adult (YA) novels to properly examine the early years of AIDS from the perspective of queer adolescent protagonists. As fictions of the recent queer past, these novels foreground different aspects of 1980s and 1990s popular music and gay culture as alleviative contrasts to the oppressive reality of AIDS. If AIDS in YA literature tended to be disarticulated from gay culture (de-gayed) to avoid homophobia, then memorialising the impact of AIDS on gay culture, with its connections to popular music, has political and pedagogical effects...

JHF 4:1, 2022, 4—24Download article as pdf.

Kevin Farrell

‘If you listen carefully now, you will hear’: Spectral music in A Brief History of Seven Killings

This study considers the role of music in Marlon James’ A Brief History of Seven Killings (2014), applying Jacques Derrida’s notion of spectrality to James’ recurrent allusions to the songs of Bob Marley and contextualising those allusions in reference to the novel’s supernatural elements. James’ novel is, in its presentation of Jamaican history, ‘haunted’ by Marley’s music, particularly the songs ‘Natural Mystic’ and ‘Rat Race’. James uses that haunting presence to challenge Marley’s posthumous public image, constructed by Island Records and the Marley Estate, as a voice of ‘peace and love’, emphasising instead the singer’s political radicalism.

JHF 4:1, 2022, 25—40Download article as pdf.

Kristin Franseen

‘Everything you’ve heard is true’: Resonating musicological anecdotes in crime fiction about Antonio Salieri

This article examines the recurring theme of unreliable anecdotes as historical ‘evidence’ in twentieth- and twenty-first-century fictional depictions of Antonio Salieri’s relationship with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Salieri’s later teaching career. These include appeals to supernatural experiences in Cedric Glover’s The Mysterious Barricades (1964) and the blending of historical documents and fictional interviews in David Weiss’s The Assassination of Mozart (1970)...

JHF 4:1, 2022, 41—60Download article as pdf.

Nodhar Hammami Ben Fradj

L’écriture féminine in Morrison’s The Bluest Eye: Questioning the social and literary standards through the use of colours, sounds, and shapes

In her novel The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison reacts against the American white racist and sexist society which used to exclude the black race and marginalise the female sex, mainly in the decades that preceded the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. She attempts to voice the black female ‘other’ through the inclusion of a new linguistic mode, an innovative feminine style which subverts the social and linguistic rules of the past...

JHF 4:1, 2022, 61—80Download article as pdf.

Eric Lehman

Paper music: Reimagining Beck’s Song Reader as a work of historical fiction

This paper explores how Beck Hansen’s Song Reader (2012) is what E L Doctorow calls a ‘false document’ or a work that improvises on historical fact to bring about a compelling narration of the past. In mimicking the economic and cultural production of the Tin Pan Alley era, Beck pushes the reader to perform a historical fiction. While this 2012 collection of twenty songs, published as a folio of sheet music, mimics the aesthetics of a turn of the twentieth century publishing industry, Beck also asks the reader to engage in the work beyond its retrochic possibilities. To hear the music, the reader needs to perform the music, displacing the ease of access of the recording music industry of today, where streaming music on phones and devices is the norm...

JHF 4:1, 2022, 81—104Download article as pdf.

Tomer Nechushtan

Keeping time: Song and dance as phenomenological experiences of historicity in the film musical

This article examines the ways in which film musicals recreate the experience of living in history through their song and dance sequences. These sequences offer their audience a collective complex phenomenological experience through cinematic presence, excess and repetition. Using Bergson’s idea of multiplicity in duration, this article demonstrates how these musical numbers invite us as an audience to a historicity in which time is shared with others without erasing historical conflicts and tensions. This allows us to both identify with historical communities and also question official histories and to seek out additional alternative bodily histories through its non-narrative elements.

JHF 4:1, 2022, 105—124Download article as pdf.