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In his philosophical treatise, Poetics, Aristotle states that the historian significantly differs from the poet because their work describes what has happened, while the other describes the thing that might happen. Therefore the majority of fictional narratives are secluded to the realm outside of traditional historical archives. Although they contain stories and events that may be as real or valid as any of those found in a non-fictional discourse, they remain untold outside of their “fictional frame.” However, an analysis of several prominent Egyptian novels, published in the mid 20th century, combine to form a “counter discourse” to the hegemonic narrative of Egypt’s socio-economic and political development during this tumultuous period. Together, these novellas emphasize the belief that “narrativity, rather than the presence or absence of documents, is what makes ‘historical narrative’ meaningful, and therefore effective.” Today, many historians and literary theorists are exploring modes of “hybridization that one may arrive at some notion of better ways to undertake research into significant problems in both the humanities and the so-called human sciences.” History and literature cannot be classified as homogeneous entities, as “they are fluid, heterogeneous areas where diverse practices and techniques are mixed.” Fictional narratives can often be used to enhance knowledge gained from the study of historical archives, as well as provide an alternative understanding of significant historical periods or events.
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English, Nolan Gregory, "The Fictionality of History: The Role of Literature in the Twentieth Century Egyptian Historical Archive" (2013). Senior Projects Spring 2013. 171.
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