Thursday, October 7, 2010

Fiction in the Archives by Natalie Zemon Davis~★★★★★

Author: Natalie Zemon Davis
Title: Fiction in the Archives: Pardon Tales and Their Tellers in Sixteenth-Century France
Release Date: May 1st, 1990
Publisher: Stanford University Press
Genre: Non-Fiction

Book Cover: "A gleaming jewel of a book which throws a fascinating light on the legal, social, and literary history of the sixteenth century...It allows us to observe at work the consciousness of one of the most creative historians."-Henry Heller, Historic Sociale/Social History
"In all her scholarship, Davis has sought to restore our direct contact with voices from the sixteenth century, and her new book represents her most extended and sophisticated effort of this kind...This is an important book. It is a first exploration of how sixteenth-century men and woman narrated---and hence constructed---the realities of their lives. Despite the playful artistry of Davis's own voice, this is a call for social historians to approach their work in new ways."-Jonathan Dewald, Journal of Social History
"As always, Davis's study is superbly written, generously endowed with the contemporaneous feel of life, grandly pagan in its avoidance of verbal or mental idolatry...It also displays that trademark vitality, and self-effacing yet vigorous dedication to the truth that makes for great historical writing."-Richard C. Trexler, Renaissance Quarterly

Taryn's Review: This book was so far from one of the those dry, wordy history books you might have been forced to read at some point in your life. This book was incredibly fun to read.

Davis examined "pardon tales" and broke them down for discussion. Her argument showed that narrative construction was practiced across all class levels. What is a pardon tale you ask? Well, it was a person's formal explanation of why he or she killed someone and why he or she believed he or she should be pardoned from the crime.

I actually had a nightmare after reading this book, but even that didn't deter my enjoyment of it. It's so readable and accessible. Reading primary sources is always awesome for me, especially since the provided sources were perfectly readable by 21st century standards. If you have an interest in French history, history, social history, or just like a gory story, try this book.

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