Responses to Literature
1. How does Ackroyd’s use of historical figures and
details differ from other authors of historical fiction?
Do you believe that these distinctions justify
Ackroyd’s insistence that he does not write historical
fiction? Why or why not? In your response,
make sure to cite specific examples from your
2. Read Ackroyd’s The Great Fire of London and Dickens’s
Little Dorrit. It has been argued that Ackroyd’s
text is a kind of continuation of the Dickens novel.
After having read both, why do you think Ackroyd
featured Little Dorrit so prominently in his own
novel? Would the novel stand without all the references
to the Dickens text? Support your response
with passages from each novel.
3. Give historical fiction a shot. Choose an important
historical person or event, research it—using the
library and the Internet—and then write a short story
or film that incorporates both historical fact and
imaginary elements. Then, in a short essay, describe
the choices you made and your experience of writing
4. Using the Internet and the library, research the life
and writings of Oscar Wilde. Then, read Ackroyd’s
The Last Testament of Oscar Wilde. Some feel
Ackroyd truly captures the voice of Wilde in this text,
while others are not so sure. After having researched
Oscar Wilde and having readAckroyd’s novel, howwell
do you thinkAckroyd represents hismain character—in
terms of voice and character?
B I B L I O G R A P H Y
Gibson, Jeremy and Julian Wolfreys. Peter Ackroyd: The
Ludic and Labyrinthine Text. New York, N.Y.:
St. Martin’s Press, 1999.
Jaen, Susana Onega. Metafiction and Myth in the Novels
of Peter Ackroyd. Columbia, S.C.: Camden House,
Finney, Brian. ‘‘Peter Ackroyd, Postmodernist Play and
Chatterton.’’ Twentieth Century Literature: A
Scholarly and Critical Journal (1992).
Leivick, Laura. ‘‘Following the Ghost of Dickens.’’
English New York Times Magazine (December 22,
Peck, John. ‘‘The Novels of Peter Ackroyd.’’. English
Studies: A Journal of English Language and
Smith, Amanda. ‘‘Peter Ackroyd.’’ Publishers Weekly
(December 25, 1987).
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