The Anecdotal: Truth in Detail


Different historical dictionaries note that the term “anecdote” was established in literature during the 7th century by the Byzantine writer Procopius of Caesarea, but did not gain full acceptance as a term and as a genre until the 17th century. The word literally designates what is new: a fact or detail that was unknown to the public and had not been disclosed by official history (this was the meaning given by the Dictionnaire de l’Académie Française in its 1762 version). The term anecdote soon became synonymous with little story. Hence the question: is there a place for small stories within the larger and more noble or tragic narrative of history itself, which is presumed to be full of meaning?

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