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Caleb Carr: Running Away from the Darkness

By Douglas Tallack

Abstract

The issue of historical authenticity within a fictional genre—which is \ud one of the concerns of the present collection of essays—has two inter- \ud related dimensions in Caleb Carr's work. In two best-selling novels, The \ud Alienist (1994) and The Angel of Darkness (1997), Carr re-creates New York \ud City in the 1890s, a historically recognisable world but one which is popu- \ud lated by a mixture of fictional and historical figures. As a history graduate \ud but, equally, as a writer of stories of detection, Carr evinces a sustained \ud commitment to detail and fact (as is apparent in his Acknowledgments), \ud which he skillfully integrates into overarching historical themes, notably the \ud emergence of urban modernity. The other dimension to Carr's work, though, \ud is the highly imaginative use of the detective story genre to confront a more \ud complex historiographical challenge than achieving period authenticity: \ud how to write a history of unconscious fears and their irruption into daily life. \ud In a 1919 essay, Freud terms this phenomenon the uncanny and we might, \ud therefore, summarise Caleb Carr's contribution as an effort to represent the \ud hidden historical structure of the uncanny.Metadata only entr

Publisher: Bowling Green State University Popular Press
Year: 2000
OAI identifier: oai:lra.le.ac.uk:2381/8671
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