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The Content of the Form

Paperback
, 264 pages
ISBN:
9780801841156
August 1990
$27.00

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The Content of the Form

Narrative Discourse and Historical Representation

Hayden White probes the notion of authority in art and literature and examines the problems of meaning—its production, distribution, and consumption—in different historical epochs. In the end, he suggests, the only meaning that history can have is the kind that a narrative imagination gives to it. The secret of the process by which consciousness invests history with meaning resides in "the content of the form," in the way our narrative capacities transform the present into a fulfillment of a past from which we would wish to have descended.

Hayden White is professor of the history of consciousness and Presidential Professor of Historical Studies at the University of California at Santa Cruz. He is the author of Metahistory: The Historical Imagination in Nineteenth-Century Europe and Tropics of Discourse: Essays in Cultural Criticism, both available from Johns Hopkins University Press.

"The publication of The Content of the Form... is an important event. It shows that for a long period White has been unremittingly concerned with a revaluation of the concept of narrative in the contemporary context, and that the various different intellectual stimuli which he has received have all helped to focus his intense study of the subject."

"This oeuvre will continue to force us to pay close, careful, rigorous attention to the syntheses he offers, so that anyone who 'reads'—whether fiction, history, biography, autobiography, whatever—needs to have examined the writings of Hayden White."

"[White] has clearly made significant advances in laying a foundation for a better understanding of the intricate interaction between narrative representation and what it purports to represent in both history and literature."

"[White] has clearly made significant advances in laying a foundation for a better understanding of the intricate interaction between narrative representation and what it purports to represent in both history and literature."