Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Lying for a Noble Cause?

Interesting article on the reader's relationship with the past in historical fiction and the role fiction plays in getting readers to engage with history. I particularly like de Groot's line, "All history lies to us, but at least historical fiction admits it." Readers of historical fiction accept the subjectivity of history and use their reading experience "to think about the ways in which what we call 'history' works."

4 comments:

Pat Bracewell said...

Thank you for sharing this post by deGroot. I really like what he has to say. I think that one reason for the popularity of historical fiction is that very often the main character is a woman....and so often women were simply left out of the historical record. Now historians, as well as historical fiction writers, are trying to discover (and often, imagine) the part that women might have played.

Julianne Douglas said...

Great point, Pat!

mesmered said...

I've been following a discussion on Goodreads on how much fact there should be in fiction and its been enlightening to see how disturbed readers become if a female character is taken out of what is perceived to be the societal context at that time.
They seem to imply that any women pre-suffragette can show no independence of spirit... that she can't refuse a marriage, rebel, have her own opinions and so forth because it is quite simply not how women would have reacted in their various eras.
Pat's comment about 'imagining' the part that women might have played is exactly the thing that I enjoy as a reader.

Julianne Douglas said...

I like the way you think, mesmered...frankly, there has to be a bit of boundary-pushing in hf, or else there is no story. Good fiction is conflict-based; if the female characters never test their imposed roles or expectations, how can one write interesting stories about them?

I'll have to go check out that discussion on Goodreads. Thanks!