Keynote: The Revolution Will Not Be Fictionalised
Announcing a new keynote speaker
The Revolution Will Not Be Fictionalised?
Much of the recent spate of historical fictions is focussed on the individual and the personal and on related themes such as desire and identity. Far less prevalent are fictional depictions of the past which tackle significant political events and radical historical movements without submitting the public or the universal to the dictates of the self or the particular. There are, as a result, no leading contemporary fictional accounts of revolutions, transformative popular or universal events of the past with ongoing consequences. When revolutions and other similar episodes feature in historical fictions, they often serve as backdrop to the inter-personal dramas of individual protagonists; or they are only seen from the perspective of individual protagonists and judged (often harshly) through the lens of individual moral or identitarian concerns and anxieties.
But on this 100th anniversary year of the October Revolution – and the 150th anniversary of the publication of Karl Marx’s Capital Volume I – I would like to encourage today’s fiction-makers to narrate the world-historical events of the past by engaging with the political, the social and the universal dimensions of these events. I would like to argue for a historical fiction that promotes revolutionary subjectivity in place of the narcissisms and ideological consolations of most contemporary fiction.
Ali Alizadeh’s fictional works include the new novel about Joan of Arc, The Last Days of Jeanne d’Arc (Giramondo, 2017), the short story cycle titled Transactions (UQP, 2013), and a novel about the Iranian Revolution, The New Angel (Transit Lounge, 2010). He is currently researching and working on a novel about the French Revolution, and is also writing a monograph about Marx. He is a Senior Lecturer in Literary Studies and Creative Writing at Monash University.