History and Theory 26 (4):75-86 (1987)

In attempting to establish a correspondence between the content of historical narrative and that of past facts, F. R. Ankersmit identifies a "mechanism" which enables one to arrive at a narrative representation of the past. He asserts that the mechanism cannot be called a "translation," since the correspondence is indirect. Narrative is, however, closer to the truth than he has stated. Historical narratives can be evaluated on their proximity to the truth by the degree of their coherence. Coherence can be judged on two criteria: the kind of temporal content and the kind of conceptual organization of the worldview of the annalist. The chronicle emerged in the late Middle Ages. Temporally, the chronicler uses retrospection to introduce causal links in a chain of events. The worldview of the chronicler provides the conceptual organization. Strictly historical narratives took form in the nineteenth century and have a temporal organization which is both retrospective and prospective. The control of the theoretical organization of a narrative by an historian can be said to be one of the fundamental rules whereby historiography becomes a more and more coherent and integrated presentation of the past
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DOI 10.2307/2505046
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