In order to incorporate new factual, unbiased, and authentic inclusions, Dixon/O'Connor also integrates historical documents, letters, interviews, and other references. This historiographical metafiction fictionalizes these historical events to add evidence to the stories of the characters. Hutcheon defines historiographic metafiction as novels that are self-reflexive and “re-introduce historical context into metafiction and problematize the entire question of historical knowledge” (54). By bringing in these historical references and fictional historical documents, O’Connor enables the ability to question the history of the Irish Famine and the experience of it. He uses actual references, such as Punch Magazine, to show the racism towards the Irish people at the time, and quotes from people, such as Charles Trevelyan and John Mitchel, to show the British and Irish viewpoints on the famine. Incorporating these historical references along with fictional historical documents puts the story into a historical context. O’Connor also adds in intertextuality in the novel, referencing works such as Wuthering Heights, Oliver Twist, and Jane Eyre. All recognizable and popular texts, using these literary intertexts to appear alongside all of the other references and fictional texts highlights the historical relevance of the novel.
“Driven by a tragic historical context, the novel utilises intertextual references to both install and blur the boundary between historical and fictional texts” (Beville 94).
Beville explains Star of the Sea by arguing that “on the one hand the novel provides an exploration of and interrogation into the historicizing process, on the other hand it stresses the need to remember, and forwards the somewhat controversial idea that fiction can provide a space where the past can be partially recuperated” (79). The historiographical metafiction and intertextuality in the novel is used to support the story, which ultimately conveys the characters’ experiences by providing historical evidence.
Beville, Maria. “Delimiting the Unspeakable: Gothic Preoccupations in Joseph O’Connor’s Star of the Sea.” Aeternum: The Journal of Contemporary Gothic Studies 1.1 (2014): 30-41. Print.
Hutcheon, Linda. “The Pastime of Past Time”: Fiction, History, Historiographic Metafiction.” Postmodern Genres. Ed. Marjorie Perloff. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1989. 54-74. Print.