The Past in the Present

Nina Vietorová

The past in the present as it is displayed in the postmodern interpretation of two important authors, David Lodge and Colm Tóibín, manifests values that remain identical in different historical situations.
"A memoir" starts to be in vogue, its transformation in form of a novel is to be found in case of two recently published books -- David Lodge's Author, Author and Colm Tóibín's The Master. The relation between reality and fiction is always ambivalent and often controversial. Lodge's novel Author, Author and Tóibín's novel The Master manifest the fantasy of their creators but also their respect for the fact and the tendency to preserve the truth.

The application of authenticity and fabulation (fact and fiction) is a significant element of postmodern prose in general and both analyzed novels prove the importance of this combination in a very efficient and artistically creative form.

Both novels are despite the fictive format in fact works of non-fiction. Nearly everything that happens in the stories is based on factual sources. Real people appear and act. Quotations from their but mainly James's books, interviews, articles, letters, journals are their -- his own words.
D. Lodge and C. Tóibín manifest operness of postmodern literature to different text stimuli as articulated by Henry James (1843--1916), the author whose novels and "long short stories" built metaphorically an intellectual bridge between realism and modernism. Their novels are exquisitely nuanced; both writers posses a sensitive eye and subtle ear for "newly discovered" areas of James's fiction.

Metanarrative commentary of Lodge and Tóibín is the immanent component of their narration. Henry James is interpreted by both writers through their own register of experiences. James's life is for them a kind of palimpsest, a part of the past that has penetrated into the present and helps to support the "moral ecology" of art in the current era.


Author, Author and The Master display a brilliant manipulation of James's text and metatext on the lexical, syntactic and stylistic level. Lodge and Tóibín prove one of important postmodern principles namely that absolute truth is more a kind of fata morgana and facts are available always in some form of interpretation. We get a version of a fact as seen and interpreted by somebody who brings the message. In case of Lodge's and Tóibín's novels the message is artistically exciting, morally motivating, enriching readers' intellect and enhancing interest in valuable art.

Keywords: Past. Present. Moral Ecology. Identity. Novel. Self-reflection. Metatext. Reconstruction.