The Tale of the Tribe and the question of history

Simply put in a quote, I feel these questions help define text from – the book – and the voice of the narrator from that of the narrator him (or her) self’.

“Thus, all three extensive epics make extensive use of direct quotations from the actual records left by the past. As was noted earlier, this practice helps to establish the poet’s authority as a trustworthy historian, and serves to deflect our tendency to treat his discourse as a purely subjective creation. But Walter Benjamin saw another and more subtle purpose in this technique, one I think Ezra Pound, Williams Carlos Williams, Charles Olson and also instinctively utilized. In Benjamin’s eye’s, the judicious use of quotations offers one of the most effective means of overcoming the historiography of pure power and political dominance. As Irving Wohlfart notes, for Benjamin, “the function of quotation is to break up the unified, totalitarian blocks that comformist historiography passes out as history,” it “isolated the elective affinities between the present and specific moments of the past. To grasp such correspondences is to seize the chance of the moment” (on Benjamin’s last reflections, “Glyph 3, 1978. P. 181). – Micheal Bernstein, Conclusion, The Tale of the Tribe, p. 274.

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