In a period that is often characterised by a postmodernist blur of boundaries, it seems that the sharp distinction between historiographic fiction and history has also disappeared. The fussiness of this boundary could, amongst other reasons, be ascribed to, the result of criticism against narrative history (e.g. Hayden White), as well as to the emphasis on local knowledge, the petite histoire (Lyotard). The role of art in society is examined at the hand of Etienne van Heerden's novel, Die swye van Mario Salviati (2000) [The Silence of Mario Salviati]. But like most magic realist fiction, this novel is also a serious engagement with the past. The combination of a focus on art and on history serves as point of departure for this essay. Drawing on this novel and on Paul Ricoeur's Time and Narrative, a case is made for the continuation of a distinction between fiction and history.
This article was written by Prof. Willie Burger before he joined the University of Pretoria