Things of the Past
Paradwys Wiliam Owen Roberts

In this issue, Transcript features a number of historical novels. Two of these, Treading Air by Estonian Jaan Kross, and All that is Transient is but a Likeness by Swede Steve Sem-Sandberg, are set in the early twentieth century. Kross' work records different periods of occupation of the Estonian national territory, while Sem-Sandberg's book is an insight into the short-lived but fascinating workers' Republics which mushroomed in Germany after the first world war. Two woman novelists from Greece have recently written works set towards the end of the third quarter of the nineteenth century. These are Rhea Galanaki and Sotie Triantafillou who wrote The Life of Ismail Ferik Pasha and The Pencil Factory respectively. The Pencil Factory has been well received in Greece and Transcript hopes to have more on this in the next issue. Slovenian giant Drago Jancar and Wales' Wiliam Owen Roberts share a love of the burlesque. Also Jancar's Katharina, The Peacock and the Jesuit is set in late medieval Europe, as is Roberts' Pestilence. Perhaps the present wealth of historical novels reflects ideas current at the turn of the millennium. Perhaps also the preoccupation with historical junctures indicates that significant changes have or are occurring in European society at the present time. Talk during the twentieth century was of the end of history. But the novels of our time seem to say that history must be contemplated from many angles, and that synthesis is perhaps a thing of the past.

Read also Things of the Past, Part 2 in Transcript 16.

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