The Underworld

Definition of Representation


The System

Famous Crime

REPĚREĚSENĚTAĚTION ("re-pri-"zen-'tA-sh&n") n. Date: 15th century: 1 : one that represents: as a : an artistic likeness or image b (1) : a statement or account made to influence opinion or action (2) : an incidental or collateral statement of fact on the faith of which a contract is entered into c : a dramatic production or performance d (1) : a usually formal statement made against something or to effect a change (2) : a usually formal protest. (Merriam-Webster Online)

To "make history" we must sometimes derive all our knowledge from writings from different historical periods. For instance, we have few links to the lives of the Romans. All that remains of their culture is broken architecture, art and writings, so we must use their writings to discover how they lived and what their culture was. The same can apply to nineteenth century France, although we do have more historical access to the times, it is useful to make use of such representations as are used by authors like Sue, Hugo and Balzac. These authors especially give us helpful insights to the underclasses. Though novels such as Les Mysteres de Paris are definitely sympathetic and thus possibly biased, due to the great research of the author (in Sue's case, infiltrating the slums himself to gather more information), we can derive a great deal from representations.

However, novels aren't the only important form of representation. Art is another important form of representation. In some ways, it can be even clearer and less sympathetic. To learn more about art as a form of representation, please click here.

This page was created by M. Childs