City of God and The Fictional World of Archives

Original Novel Title: City of God

Author: E.L. Doctorow

Publisher: Random House, February 2000.

Gayland Corbin provided this summary:

A former Episcopal clergyman undertakes a quest for the lost archive of a Jewish ghetto, which has been preserved in a Catholic church since World War II.

When the chest is opened for inspection by Customs at the International Arrivals Building in New York:

The inspectors unwrap the packages to find sheaves of paper bound in twine, booklets, manuals, folders, rolled-up blueprints, diagrams, stapled documents, envelopes of various sizes, each labeled in a small, neat Yiddish script....they agree among themselves that there is nothing here of interest to them.

Further along in the novel,

Pem and the attorney dive in. In notebooks, students' bluebooks, and unbound pages, a diary in one increasingly familiar hand covering a period of three years, 1941 to the date in 1944 when the ghetto is dismantled and the survivors are marched to the railroad station.

The creation and preservation of the archive is perhaps the main plot, if that term can even be applied to the structure of this book, also part essay on "moral of consequence as ... good, reflective, just, and compassionate human being[s]," and much more, from science to songs.

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CONTENTS: The Fictional World of Archives

Submitted by Gaylan Corbin, 2000.09.03. Updated 2000.09.13.