What Is History? What Is Literature?

Ivan Jablonka seeks something other than a mere combination of history, social science, and literature. He would like history, itself understood as a social science, to be a literature of the real world. He is also interested in literature informed not only by the results but, more important, by the forms of reasoning and inquiry of history and related social sciences (notably anthropology and sociology). Jablonka's own positioning within the Annales seems obvious, notably in his stress on cognition, problem-oriented research, and the status of history as a social science. But the attention and research devoted in the work of scholars in and around the Annales to the relations among history, literature, and fiction have not been pronounced, and in this context Jablonka inflects the understanding of history in relatively underdeveloped directions. Despite possible disagreements one may have over specific issues, Jablonka's thought-provoking book raises very important questions, opens many significant avenues of inquiry, and seeks a desirable interaction between historical and literary approaches.