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Ragtime Essay | Critical Essay #2

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Critical Essay #2

In the excerpt below, Wright investigates Doctorow's use of "pseudo-history" to create his story about marginalized men and women in American society.

Perhaps the crucial difference between E.L. Doctorow's Ragtime (1975) and other, more thoroughgoing fictional reinventions of history such as Barth's Giles Goat-Boy (1966) or Rushdie's Shame (1983) is that the latter use history to say something about fiction—they display the endlessly fertile capacity of the novelistic imagination to compensate for the stubborn limitations, or paucity, of facts—while Doctorow uses fiction to say something about history. Specifically, Doctorow calls into question the whole business of historicity and the origination of historical "fact" from possibly doubtful sources. Doctorow's metaphor for history in the novel is a "player piano" that plays its own tune, regardless of the style—classical, romantic, ragtime—which the pianist chooses to interpret it in. History, as the music of what...

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This section contains 1,488 words
(approx. 5 pages at 300 words per page)
Purchase our Ragtime Study Guide
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Ragtime from BookRags and Gale's For Students Series. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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