By Theophilus Savvas (auth.)
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Extra resources for American Postmodernist Fiction and the Past
L. Doctorow’s, who writes, as we shall see, that history and fiction are indistinguishable, that there is, indeed, ‘only narrative’. Nevertheless, DeLillo’s book still suggests that the hauntings, to adapt Michel de Certeau’s coinage, of each by the other, of fiction by history and history by fiction, mean that distinguishing between the two, in the postmodern age at least, is not always possible and not always consoling. The sum total of all the things they aren’t telling us The ‘Morehouse Professor of Latent History’ in DeLillo’s 1973 novel Great Jones Street explains that his ‘professorship deals with events that almost took place, events that definitely took place but remained unseen and unremarked on .
Crucially ‘either/or’ has become ‘and/or’ and Nixon has thought 36 American Postmodernist Fiction and the Past the unthinkable, that the myth of the binary opposite might not hold, that the entire Cold War itself may just be a fabrication dreamed up by Uncle Sam and the Phantom as a useful mechanism for binding peoples to their respective nations. 44 Nixon becomes certain that Julius and Ethel are ‘taking the rap for someone else’ and that ‘they weren’t who or what the FBI said they were’ (Public Burning 370).
Triggered by the media, Nixon’s comments are couched in a way strongly reminiscent of the verdict of the judge who presided over the Rosenberg Trial, Irving Kaufman, which Coover poeticises, though quotes verbatim in the prologue: I believe your conduct in putting into the hands of the Russians the A-bomb years before our best Scientists predicted Russia would perfect the bomb has already Caused, in my opinion, the Communist Aggression in Korea, with the Resultant casualties exceeding fifty thousand and who knows but millions more of Innocent people may pay the price Of your treason.