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Lauren Hoogen Stoevenbeld | Living a Dream: History and Fiction in Danilo Kiš’ “A Tomb for Boris Davidovich” and “The Encyclopedia of the Dead”

Abstract

In this article I compare two stories by Yugoslavian author Danilo Kiš, “A Tomb for Boris Davidovich” and “The Encyclopedia of the Dead,” which address the problems and possibilities of writing a truthful history. Although the stories seem to contradict each other, I will argue that in fact they do not. Instead, when read together through frameworks of historiography and cultural memory studies, these stories show how literature can reflect on the past in meaningful ways outside of the means of scholarly historical writing, and in doing so offer a better understanding of the status of fiction about true events, in a time in which this is increasingly contested.

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