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We expect poetic language to be more figurative than historiography, while we expect historiography to contain more explicit references to anterior discourse (source material). We expect that the “voice” in poetry may identify its location, attitude, feelings, and values; we are bothered if the “voice” in historiography does any of these things. We expect the poet to be eccentric, emotive, stylized—and if, like Williams in Paterson, he should insert a fragment from another text, we do not demand that he cite his source.

79 Davie is suspicious of Pound not simply because of his fascist sympathies but because poetry, unlike professional historiography, and especially in the aftermath of Romanticism, accepts the centrality of the author’s subjective sensibility, which is fair enough, but why may history not be understood in poetry? We may grant that poets, like other writers, have often contributed to the misunderstanding of history, but why insist that history can never be understood in poetry? After all, historiography is often strongly colored by nationalist, sectarian, or ideological biases—one thinks of recent controversies over historians’ accounts of the Armenian genocide, the Japanese occupation of China and Korea during World War II, the expulsion or voluntary emigration of Palestinians from their homes after the 1948 war, or the tempest surrounding the Enola Gay exhibit at the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum.

Cicero, De Oratore II. 62–64. 19. Quoted in Robert Holton, Jarring Witnesses: Modern Fiction and the Representation of History (New York: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1994), 11. 20. Quoted in Beverley Southgate, History Meets Fiction (New York: Pearson, 2009), 29. 21. Quoted in Stern, Varieties, 96. 22. , The Writing of History: Literary Form and Historical Understanding (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1978), 19. 23. G. W. F. Hegel, Lectures on the Philosophy of World History, trans. H. B. Nisbet (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1975), 135.

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250 years of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR by G. D Komkov


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