HISTORICAL KNOWLEDGE AND LITERARY FICTION:HHhH OR THE SHORTCOMINGS OF THE NARRATING I
Towards the end of HHhH (2009) the narrator, who has long hesitated on the labelling of his text –– ‘my book about Heydrich’; ‘my little book on Heydrich’; ‘my story’; ‘my novel’ –– comes to the following conclusion: ‘I think I’m starting to understand: I’m writing an infranovel.’ This generic designation encapsulates Binet’s objective: to depict historical truth (the assassination of the Nazi dignitary Reinhard Heydrich in Prague on 27 May 1942) with the stylistic tools of creative fiction, but without the recourse to invention. Is Binet successful or is the historical episode reported in HHhH reduced to a space of substitution for an aesthetic exercise, to a mere pretext? This article proposes to analyse Binet’s ‘infranovel’ in light of the place of the narrating I in a historically-informed work of fiction. The article will focus in particular on the numerous authorial interventions that are designed to turn the reader into a witness of Binet’s earnestness, and will consider the legit-imacy of the self-aware narrating I in (metafictional) historiography.