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A secret history of culture

Related: Lipstick Traces, a Secret History of 20th Century (1989) - secret - history


Alternative title to Jahsonic.com, first described in Greil Marcus's book, also inspired by Walter Kendrick's Secret Museum. See under secret.


A secret history (or shadow history) is a version of history that is at odds with commonly accepted historical events and which is claimed to have been deliberately suppressed or forgotten. Originally secret histories were designed as non-fictional, revealing what is portrayed as the truth behind the spin: the exemplar is the Anecdota of Procopius of Caesarea (known for centuries as the Secret History), which portrays the reign of the Roman Emperor Justinian I to the great disadvantage of the Emperor, his wife and some of his court.

There is also a thriving genre of secret historical fiction. Often this relies on alternate history, with the end result of the changed historical premise being a world that is otherwise indistinguishable from the present (an example would be The Alteration by Kingsley Amis, in which the entire 20th century world is run by the Catholic Church). Secret history is sometimes used in a science fiction universe to preserve continuity by reconciling predicted events in a science fiction universe with what actually happened.

Retconning, the process of inventing or altering the canonical account of past events in fiction, may create a secret history for a character, as in the case of Alan Moore's reimagining of Swamp Thing, or turn an established history into a secret history, as in the case of DC Comics' Crisis on Infinite Earths. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secret_history [Mar 2006]

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