Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1946/11429
Penelope Lively’s 1987 novel Moon Tiger has long been left out of critical studies of the British historical novel, despite being an exceptionally fitting representative of the genre, as well as an apt pioneer of one of its subgenres. This essay endeavours to clarify its position within the extensive framework of historical fiction, while emphasizing the value and importance of such high-quality specimens of the genre. The protagonist and principal narrator of Moon Tiger is the historian Claudia Hampton, who is planning to write a history of the world with herself at its core. The novel’s positioning of Claudia as a central figure in the larger scheme of things is vital to my thesis, for it is my objective to demonstrate the interconnectedness of public and private narratives, and the manner in which Lively’s novel continually suggests their equivalent significance. For in a developing society the individual can not progress without recognizing his or her situation in history, whereas a historical account will never get close to being comprehensive without a proper consideration of subjective personal accounts along with names, dates and statistics. As Claudia executes her grand project, she wanders back in time, in a “kaleidoscopic” fashion, revisiting moments of her past and selected historical events, all the while allowing a few of her intimate contemporaries to shed an additional light on these past occurrences. Lively employs this fragmented narrative method as a means to strengthen many of her arguments which refute standard conceptions regarding historical objectivity and the accustomed hierarchy of historical evidence.