S-Space Researcher Institutes (연구소) American Studies Institute (미국학연구소) 미국학 미국학 Volume 31 Number 1/2 (2008)
고어 비달의 『링컨』과 포스트모더니즘 역사소설
Gore Vidal's Lincoln and Postmodernist Historical Fiction
- Issue Date
- 서울대학교 미국학연구소
- 미국학, Vol.31 No.2, pp. 199-233
- Gore Vidal(고어 비달); Lincoln(『링컨』); postmodemism(포스트모더니즘); historical novel(역사소설); Abraham Lincoln(아브라함 링컨)
- Gore Vidal s Lincoln is an iconoclastic work attempting to shatter the image of Lincoln as a saint or god. tn a story told from the points of view of six characters, Vidal p resents a president awkward in his behavior and dress, suffering from constipation and a possible case of syphilis contracted while young, estranged from his son Robert, ignorant of economics, and disregardful of the Constitution. Vidal emphasizes Lincoln's efforts to settle the freed blacks on foreign soil and suggests that it was not merely the president's desire to preserve the Union, but also his obsession to excel the Founding Fathers, that drove him to maneuver the South into attacking the Sumter with consequent casualties of over 600,000. Thanks to this alternative Lincoln' s overweening ambition, the United States began its gradual transformation from Republic to Empire. The portrait of Lincoln that thus emerges is of a cold and manipulative politician driven by a towering desire to insure his place in the pantheon of great presidents. No longer the Great Emancipator, Vidal casts Lincoln as America's Great Centralizer.
Unlike postmodernist fiction writers, Vidal does not play with historical figures or events in a manner that contradicts historical records. He does not challenge the conventions of historical writing nor the traditional historical novel by fabricating facts or creating anachronistic situations. Like the professional historian, he builds his narrative around “agreed-upon” historical facts while exercising his license as a novelist in those areas where little factual knowledge is available. Without adopting postmodernist narrative strategies, he reconstructs the Civil War period and portrays Lincoln stripped of his popular myths and legends. The popular commercial reception of Lincoln suggests that there is no necessary link between meta fictional techniques of a novel and its affective effects, although Vidal seems to have benefited from the postmodern erosion of master narratives regarding national origin and purpose, in particular the grand narrative of Lincoln. The negative response by professional historians to Lincoln also suggests that the overall satirical portrayal of the president, along with their lack of understanding regarding the conventions of different historical novels, has provoked them to react negatively rather than the factual errors they observe (which are trivial). Lincolon historiography thus prompts questions about the historicity of historical novels, both traditional and postmodernist, and the fictionality of historical writing itself.