Speaking in the Past Tense: Canadian Novelists On Writing Historical Fiction by Herb WyileSpeaking in the Past Tense: Canadian Novelists On Writing Historical Fiction by Herb Wyile

Speaking in the Past Tense: Canadian Novelists On Writing Historical Fiction

byHerb Wyile

Paperback | October 22, 2009

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Speaking in the Past Tense participates in an expanding critical dialogue on the writing of historical fiction, providing a series of reflections on the process from the perspective of those souls intrepid enough to step onto what is, practically by definition, contested territory.”

— Herb Wyile, from the Introduction

The extermination of the Beothuk ... the exploration of the Arctic ... the experiences of soldiers in the trenches during World War I ... the foibles of Canada’s longest-serving prime minister ... the Ojibway sniper who is credited with 378 wartime kills—these are just some of the people and events discussed in these candid and wide-ranging interviews with eleven authors whose novels are based on events in Canadian history.

These sometimes startling conversations take the reader behind the scenes of the novels and into the minds of their authors. Through them we explore the writers’ motives for writing, the challenges they faced in gathering information and presenting it in fictional form, the sometimes hostile reaction they faced after publication, and, perhaps most interestingly, the stories that didn’t make it into their novels.

Speaking in the Past Tense provides fascinating insights into the construction of national historical narratives and myths, both those familiar to us and those that are still being written.

Herb Wyile was a professor of English at Acadia University. His books include Speculative Fictions: Contemporary Canadian Novelists and the Writing of History (2002) and Speaking in the Past Tense: Canadian Novelists on Writing Historical Fiction (WLU Press, 2007). He co-edited, with Jeanette Lynes, Surf’s Up! The Rising Tide of Atla...
Title:Speaking in the Past Tense: Canadian Novelists On Writing Historical FictionFormat:PaperbackDimensions:336 pages, 8.97 × 6 × 0.81 inPublished:October 22, 2009Publisher:Wilfrid Laurier University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0889205116

ISBN - 13:9780889205116

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Table of Contents

Table of Contents for
Speaking in the Past Tense: Canadian Novelists on Writing Historical Fiction by Herb Wyile



Introduction: Speaking in the Past Tense: English-Canadian Novelists on Writing Historical Fiction


Making History: Guy Vanderhaeghe

Walking Where His Feet Can Walk: Rudy Wiebe

Confessions of a Historical Geographer: Jane Urquhart

An Afterlife Endlessly Revised: Wayne Johnston

“We Have to Recover Their Bodies”: George Elliott Clarke

Ghosts are our Allies: Margaret Sweatman

History “from the Working Man’s End of the Telescope”: Fred Stenson

Pushing out the Poison: Joseph Boyden

In the Lair of the Minotaur: Heather Robertson

The Iceman Cometh Across: Thomas Wharton

“The Living Haunt the Dead”: Michael Crummey

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Editorial Reviews

"This book is an excellent resource. Fronted by a substantial introductory essay.... The interviews bring out an engaging diversity of ideas about history and about the proper or improper literary representation of history, on the part of contemporary writers. They delve substantially, as promised, into class, race, ethnicity, gender, and post-colonial issues, as well as questions of hegemonic nationalist as opposed to alternative representations of history, and the commodification of historical fiction itself. Wyile's questions are probing and connection-building, and he elicits detailed, sustained, thoughtful answers. Moreover, while the topic is historical fiction, its problems and possibilities, the interviews range across matters intrinsic to each author's work; they are fertile ground for readers not drawn by genre interests, and a must-read for scholars dedicated to any of the eleven writers. Wilfrid Laurier University Press has published the volume in a finely designed and illustrated, yet affordable, paper edition." - Glenn Willmott - University of Toronto Quarterly, Letters in Canada 2006, Volume 77, Number 1 - 200807