American History the Radicalism of

” Indeed, in the “marriage bed of the beautiful Bertrande things now went well,” presumably in sexual cohesion, but also, in reproduction as two daughters were born to them.” key part of the Davis story was the trial, in which Arnaud was accused of being the imposter that indeed he was. This is in effect a sidebar to the story, and a sidebar to the issue of “different historians…using different types of evidence…” talk about the same things. On page 67, some 150 people had come to testify, but “forty-five people or more said that the prisoner was Arnaud…[and] about thirty to forty people said that the defendant was surely Martin Guerre.” So, people who had seen history (the real Martin) had different views of whether this man on trial was him or not. Time casts shadows on the truth, just as it does on how the history of the American Revolution took place.

Finlay takes the story told by Davis to creative levels (564) when he points out that “the wife and the imposter were not being fraudulent and adulterous; rather, they were engaged in “self-fashioning,” in “inventing” a marriage, in creating new “identities.” These shifts in emphasis – “psychological reconstruction and reflectivity” in Finlays words – “shift the story from deplorable deception to heroic commitment.”

Likewise, Woods reconstruction of the events and social changes leading up to the American Revolution “shift” that story from one of rage against the king and blood shed on the soil of the new nation to “heroic commitment” on the part of Americans to change the monarchy (and paternalism) into a republic built on creative new ways to celebrate and define a lifestyle more suitable to free people.


Davis, Natalie Zemon. (1983). The Return of Martin Guerre. Cambridge: Harvard

Finlay, Robert. (1988). The Refashioning of Martin Guerre. The.