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    Blindspot:  A Novel by a Gentleman in Exile and a Lady in Disguise
    Lepore, J, and J Kamensky. 2008. Blindspot: A Novel by a Gentleman in Exile and a Lady in Disguise. New York: Spiegel & Grau/Random House. Website Abstract

    New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice. Blindspot is a twenty-first century novel in eighteenth-century garb. It plays with the conventions of eighteenth-century novels, newspapers, portraits, and histories. Novels look for a different kind of truth than history books, and while Blindspot is fiction, it relies on our work as historians, on every page. Much that happens in the novel is based on actual events and adapted from archival evidence chronicling both ordinary life and extraordinary transformations. The American Revolution. The Enlightenment. The eighteenth century’s bawdiness, its anticlericalism, its obsessions with wit and sham and rank and pleasure. A few of Blindspot’s characters were inspired by real people; many of its buildings are based on buildings that still stand; its portraits resemble paintings that now hang on the walls of American museums. A sizable number of very short passages in the text are taken nearly verbatim from eighteenth-century letters, newspapers, account books, diaries, sermons, novels, poems, riddles, philosophical treatises, and legal records. We quoted, we borrowed, we took liberties. But we also kept faith with the past. --Jane Kamensky and Jill Lepore

    Jill Lepore and Jane Kamensky, friends since graduate school, didn’t plan to write a book. Their project, set in 1760s Boston, was supposed to be a sketch, a playful spoof of two genres: the picaresque, with its rogue hero exposing the hypocrisy around him, and the sentimental epistolary narrative—in this instance, a series of letters from a young “fallen” woman to a friend. Lepore would write a chapter as Stewart Jameson, a portrait painter in exile; then Kamensky would pick up the story in a letter from Miss Fanny Easton. They planned to present the finished product as a gift to their mentor, John Demos, the historian under whom both studied at Yale.