Confession and the Cultural Turn: Revising the Historical Critique of Lídia Jorge’s The Murmuring Coast

  • Frans Weiser University of Georgia
Keywords: Cultural history, historiographic metafiction, postmodernism, Africa, Portugal


Lídia Jorge’s A costa dos murmúrios (1988) has been primarily theorized as a subversion of historical discourse. Similar to a number of Jorge’s examinations of social changes emerging as the Estado Novo declined, the novel juxtaposes two competing versions of the past, in this case a fictional representation of the colonial wars and a woman’s testimonial account twenty years later. This article reconsiders the novel’s status as historical deconstruction, arguing that its oral and visual strategies instead correspond to the methodology of cultural historiography that emerged during the 1970s and 1980s. Expanding Helena Kaufman’s reading of the testimonial as “deliterarization,” I analyze how a slippage of critical terminology over time has equated historical fiction with narrative history. After examining the competing agendas of cultural history and literary postmodernism, I demonstrate how reconceiving Jorge’s historical “annulment” as a productive revision of fiction provides a model of complementary history facilitating interdisciplinary engagement.

Author Biography

Frans Weiser, University of Georgia

Frans Weiser is Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature and Latin American Studies at the University of Georgia.