John Wansbrough's rebukes to historians find their wittiest expression in his ‘Res ipsa loquitur’, an essay in which the nub of the problem seems to be this, that he thinks historians are writing novels and they think they are presenting the facts. Accused of engaging with language games, narrative structures and creative mimesis, a wise historian might decide to be flattered, and stick to his last. Wansbrough, after all, is also a historian: a typological assessment of his work will not (yet) find that he has slipped into the genre of novel, or theology. Even his extensive exercises in literary criticism are part of an effort to tell the history of a community. His objections are to the arbitrarily privileged position of ‘reality’, the tyranny of some narrative structures, the eschewal of interpretative versatility, and a lack of methodological and literary self-consciousness. Significant criticisms, but presented in a context which implies not only serious concern with but enjoyment of the achievement of these historians, novelists malgré eux.