From Daniel Defoe to Joseph Conrad, from Virginia Woolf to Derek Walcott, the sea has always been an inspiring setting and a powerful symbol for generations of British and Anglophone writers. Seaing through the Past is the first study to explicitly address the enduring relevance of the maritime metaphor in contemporary Anglophone fiction through in-depth readings of fourteen influential and acclaimed novels published in the course of the last three decades. The book trenchantly argues that in contemporary fiction, maritime imagery gives expression to postmodernism's troubled relationship with historical knowledge, as theorised by Hayden White, Linda Hutcheon, and others. The texts in question are interpreted against the backdrop of four aspects of metahistorical problematisation. Thus, among others, Iris Murdoch's The Sea, the Sea (1978) is read in the context of auto/biographical writing, John Banville's The Sea (2005) as a narrative of personal trauma, Julian Barnes's A History of the World in 101/2 Chapters (1989) as investigating the connection between discourses of origin and the politics of power, and Fred D'Aguiar's Feeding the Ghosts (1997) as opening up a postcolonial perspective on the sea and history. Persuasive and topical, Seaing through the Past offers a compelling guide to the literary oceans of today.