Graham Swift's Waterland Essay

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Graham Swift's Waterland In Graham Swift’s Waterland, Tom Crick says, “Children, it was one of your number, a curly-haired boy called Price… who once… asserted roundly that history was ‘a fairy-tale’… ‘What matters… is the here and now. Not the past… The only important thing about history, I think, sir, is that it’s got to the point where it’s probably about to end’”(6,7). It is very likely that we all have come to a point in our education, at one time or another, where we have encountered sentiments similar to those of Price. In most schools the subject of history is treated more or less in the same way- as a recounting of events, an examination of how the past has led to the present. This seems to be a good definition at first…show more content…
With his club he is creating a type of forward-history, filling that empty space with something. Crick believes that just as we can fill the future as a means of coping with it, we are actually doing the same thing in the present. He says that “that’s the way it is: life includes a lot of empty space… What do you do when reality is an empty space? You can make things happen… Or, like the Cricks… you can tell stories”(61). This is the process of making history: “First, there is nothing; then there is happening. And after the happening, only the telling of it”(328). Telling- exactly what we do with stories.
In fact, Crick does not distinguish the difference between story and history: “History is a yarn”(62). Just as much as it is the “Grand Narrative, the filler of vacuums,” it is also the story of humanity making things happen, of people writing their own stories: Because each one of those numberless non-participants [of recorded history] was doubtless concerned with raising in the flatness of his own unsung existence his own personal stage… even if we miss the grand repertoire of history, we yet imitate it in miniature and endorse… its longing for presence, for feature, for purpose… (40,41).

So in light of the stories we write with our own lives, there is no evading the fact that all good stories must have a conflict. Indeed, “history begins only at the point where things go wrong; history is born only with trouble, with perplexity, with

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