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Telling It Like It Wasn'tThe Counterfactual Imagination in History and Fiction$
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Catherine Gallagher

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780226512389

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226512556.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
Telling It Like It Wasn't

Catherine Gallagher

University of Chicago Press

The introduction defines what is meant by historical counterfactuals and delineates the three major forms that they take: analytical counterfactual histories, alternate histories, and alternate-history novels. It outlines several reasons for taking the mode of thought seriously, such as its connection to a constellation of basic and perennial philosophical issues, its frequent use in political debates, and its aspiration to pass judgments on historical persons, events, and episodes. It discusses the debates over counterfactual speculation that historians have conducted in the last several decades. And, finally, it explains why counterfactual narratives constitute a special kind of fictionality, emphasizing the differences between counterfactual characters (individual and collective) and fully fictional ones.

Keywords:   alternate history, alternate-history novel, counterfactual history, counterfactuality, fictionality, judgment

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