In 'Labor Day Hurricane, 1935,' Douglas Trevor vividly recreates a historical event. While that is the only story in A THIN TEAR IN THE FABRIC OF SPACE in the historical past, many of the other stories juxtapose fact-both historical and scientific-with narration to an engaging effect, one that distinguishes the voice of this new writer.
What distinguishes the historical social system we are calling historical capitalism is that in this historical system capital came to be used (invested) in a very special way. It came to be used with the primary objective or intent of self-expansion. In this system, past accumulations were 'capital' only to the extend they were used to accumulate more of the same.
It is easy to see, though it scarcely needs to be pointed out, since it is involved in the fact that Reason is set aside, that faith is not a form of knowledge; for all knowledge is either a knowledge of the eternal, excluding the temporal and historical as indifferent, or it is pure historical knowledge. No knowledge can have for its object the absurdity that the eternal is the historical.
Whether I like it or not, most of my images of what various historical periods feel, smell, or sound like were acquired well before I set foot in any history class. They came from Margaret Mitchell, from Anya Seton, from M.M. Kaye, and a host of other authors, in their crackly plastic library bindings. Whether historians acknowledge it or not, scholarly history's illegitimate cousin, the historical novel, plays a profound role in shaping widely held conceptions of historical realities.
My obsessions stay the same - historical memory and historical erasure. I am particularly interested in the Americas and how a history that is rooted in colonialism, the language and iconography of empire, disenfranchisement, the enslavement of peoples, and the way that people were sectioned off because of blood.
Jesus walking on water is an allegory, not fluid mechanics. God destroying the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah is a warning, not a historical battle. Doubting Thomas is an example, not a person. The story of Noah, with all of its scientific and historical impossibilities, can be read the same way.
Because history became his (Keenan's) genuine passion, he tended to see the world in terms of deep historical forces that, in his mind, formed a nation's character in ways almost beyond the consciousness of the men who momentarily governed it, as if these historical impulses were more a part of them than they knew.
My process for determining which eras I'd write about was to just read history books that gave a really broad overview of Chinese history. And when I came across a historical figure or a historical incident that was especially interesting to me, ideas for characters and stories would surface.
Cultural concepts are one of the most fascinating things about historical fiction. There's always a temptation, I think, among some historical writers to shade things toward the modern point of view. You know, they won't show someone doing something that would have been perfectly normal for the time but that is considered reprehensible today.
Communism is Utopia, that is nowhere. It is the avatar of all our religious eschatologies: the coming of the Messiah, the second coming of Christ, nirvana. It is not a historical prospect, but a current mythology. Socialism, by contrast, is a realizable historical system which may one day be instituted in the world.
I freely admit that I took great license in writing 'The Dark Queen,' more so than my other historical romance novels. This is largely because I viewed the book as a fantasy novel as much as an historical. I do feel that writers should strive for as much accuracy as possible but, in the end, remember that we are writing fiction.
It does not require much historical knowledge (though it may require a certain historical perspective) to see that many, if not all, of the "aristocratic" elements of the Constitution (as in other countries) have gradually disappeared or were washed away during the past two hundred years, while the monarchic powers of the presidency and the democratic extent of majority rule became more and more overwhelming.
The facts which our senses present to us are socially performed in two ways: through the historical character of the object perceived and through the historical character of the perceiving organ. Both are not simply natural; they are shaped by human activity, and yet the individual perceives himself as receptive and passive in the act of perception.
The reason for which Picasso was compelled to resort to signs and allegories should now be clear enough: his utter political helplessness in the face of a historical situation which he set out to record; his titanic effort to confront a particular historical event with an allegedly eternal truth; his desire to give hope and comfort and to provide a happy ending, to compensate for the terror, the destruction, and inhumanity of the event. Picasso did not see what Goya had already seen, namely, that the course of history can be changed only by historical means and only if men shape their own history instead of acting as the automaton of an earthly power or an allegedly eternal idea.
I have to write three books a year to make a reasonable living out of writing - unless, of course, she gets a major American film deal. Phryne has been optioned since the very first book, but to make a historical TV movie, it costs $30,000 a day extra for the historical detail to be correct, so most people aren't doing it.
'Believing' cannot tip the scales in making a historical judgement about whether something really happened. I can choose to believe that George Washington threw a silver dollar across the Rappahannock, but my believing that he did it has nothing to do with whether or not he really did do it. So also with the story of Jesus walking on water: Believing that he did it has nothing to do with whether he really did do it. 'Belief' cannot be the basis for historical conclusions; it has no direct relevance.
We live in a Jesus haunted culture that is Biblically illiterate, and so unfortunately at this point in time, almost anything can pass for knowledge of the historical Jesus from notions that he was a a Cynic sage to ideas that he was a Gnostic guru to fantasies that he didn't exist, to Dan Browne's Jesus of hysterical (rather than historical) fiction.
Ben Witherington III
[T]he visibility of styles is itself a product of historical consciousness. ... The very notion of "style" needs to be approached historically. Awareness of style as a problematic and isolable element in a work of art has emerged in the audience for art only at certain historical moments - as a front behind which other issues, ultimately ethical and political, are being debated.
The historical method includes the presupposition that history is a unity in the sense of a closed continuum of effects in which individual events are connected by the succession of cause and effect... This closedness means that the continuum of historical happenings cannot be rent by the interference of supernatural transcendent powers and that therefore there is no "miracle" in this sense of the word.
Rudolf Karl Bultmann
In the end both people realized something so utterly simple and yet horrifyingly distant- by removing the 'otherness' from their respective identification, they can embrace a land that animates their historical sense of purpose and direction. They can embrace fate by embracing each other as joint caretakers of a historical location that witnessed rivers of blood and the silent weeping of those who dream of a New Jerusalem.
[Claire travels in time. And while she and Jamie do fall in love, their story is not so much the stuff of sighs and moans (well, not just that anyway) as it is a grand adventure written on a canvas that probes the heart, weighs the soul and measures the human spirit across 10 generations. These are genre-bending novels, and that's just one of many reasons that people read them.] Historical romance is not what I write, ... I've always called them historical fantasias.
Without entering here into a dissertation upon the historical romance, it may be said that in proper hands it has been and should continue to be one of the most valued and valuable expressions of the literary art. To render and maintain it so, however, it is necessary that certain well-defined limits should be set upon the licence which its writers are to enjoy; it is necessary that the work should be honest work; that preparation for it should be made by a sound, painstaking study of the period to be represented, to the end that a true impression may first be formed and then conveyed. Thus, considering how much more far-reaching is the novel than any other form of literature, the good results that must wait upon such endeavours are beyond question. The neglect of them-the distortion of character to suit the romancer's ends, the like distortion of historical facts, the gross anachronisms arising out of a lack of study, have done much to bring the historical romance into disrepute.
Africans and persons of African descent must assume the primary responsibility and leadership in historical research....if we are to continue to leave practically all important historical research and writing concerning the black race to the white man, then we must be prepared to accept, uncomplainingly, the white man's point of view.
I'm actually the chairman of the historical foundation [in Franklin] called the Heritage Foundation in Franklin. We've got a pretty good group of folks, very influential folks, who are really striving to protect those lands and so far we're not having a lot of problems. We're growing too fast. Everybody wants to put up some sort of neighborhood but that's our biggest battle. Nobody's really trying to go on any of the historical land.
Michael W. Smith
All knowledge that is about human society, and not about the natural world, is historical knowledge, and therefore rests upon judgment and interpretation. This is not to say that facts or data are nonexistent, but that facts get their importance from what is made of them in interpretation... for interpretations depend very much on who the interpreter is, who he or she is addressing, what his or her purpose is, at what historical moment the interpretation takes place.
Edward W. Said
Historical romance is still very strong in the market. Writers of historical romance are making the bestselling lists on a regular basis and careers are growing. However, since there is much more variety in romance today, the total sales of historicals might be down from their peak. The talk of the market softening is a reflection of this, and of the fact that one does not see big growth in this area of the market.
Our knowledge of the historical worth of certain religious doctrines increases our respect for them, but does not invalidate our proposal that they should cease to be put forward as the reasons for the precepts of civilization. On the contrary! Those historical residues have helped us to view religious teachings, as it were, as neurotic relics, and we may now argue that the time has probably come, as it does in an analytic treatment, for replacing the effects of repression by the results of the rational operation of the intellect.
This general tendency to eliminate, by means of unverifiable speculations, the limits of the categories nature presents to us is the inheritance of biology from The Origin of Species. To establish the continuity required by theory, historical arguments are invoked, even though historical evidence is lacking. Thus are engendered those fragile towers of hypothesis based on hypothesis, where fact and fiction intermingle in an inextricable confusion.
W. R. Thompson
With a historical novel you know that liberties are being taken. Since Walter Scott, we know that poetic license, dramatic license, that events been conflated and that liberties have been taken, characters ditto, dates rearranged. But people don't seem to understand that movies are fictions, they are dramatizations, at least historical movies, and we should accord the moviemakers some of the same understanding and latitude. When you go to a movie you know it's a dramatization and not history.
The annual award of $5,000 goes to an author for a meritorious book published in the previous year for children or young adults. Scott O'Dell established this award to encourage other writers--particularly new authors--to focus on historical fiction. He hoped in this way to increase the interest of young readers in the historical background that has helped to shape their country and their world.
If Jesus had been an actual historical figure we have a thorny paradox. Either this Jesus was a remarkable individual who said and did a host of amazing, revolutionary things - but no one outside his fringe cult noticed for over a century. Or he didn't - and yet shortly after his death, tiny communities of worshipers that cannot agree about the most basic facts of his life spring up, scattered all across the empire. The truth is inescapable: there simply could never have been a historical Jesus.
I have rarely read a more wonderful book than To Win Her Favor by Tamera Alexander. Rich with historical detail and fully developed characters, this novel held me spellbound until the last page. If you read one historical novel this year, make it To Win Her Favor. It will linger with you long after the last page.
[...] He didn't want his wife to read historical romances because it might give her unrealistic expectations. [...] If I had been him, I would have been reading your books every time you laid them down to see how I could improve my skills and please you. Second warning of the night. I bought a couple." You bought a couple of what?" Historical romances. I'm three-quarters through the first one." He flashed her a slow grin. "All I can say is, I like the way your mind works." ~Jake Coulter and Molly Wells
Like sex, poverty and power, suicide may always be with us. But like them again, the actual form is takes is essentially time-specific and culture-bound, not only in the past but in the present too. The people who took their lives, the paths which led them to that end, and the experience of dying in this way were deeply influenced by specific historical circumstances. Only by making a greater effort at historical understanding can this most secret house of death be made to yield up more of its confidences.
One criticism of Freud still sometimes heard on the political Left is that his thinking is individualist - that he substitutes 'private' psychological causes and explanations for social and historical ones. This accusation reflects a radical misunderstanding of Freudian theory. There is indeed a real problem about how social and historical factors are related to the unconscious; but one point of Freud's work is that it makes it possible for us to think of the development of the human individual in social and historical terms. What Freud produces, indeed, is nothing less than a materialist theory of the making of the human subject. We come to be what we are by an interrelation of bodies - by the complex transactions which take place during infancy between our bodies and those which surround us. This is not a biological reductionism: Freud does not of course believe that we are nothing but our bodies, or that our minds are mere reflexes of them. Nor is it an asocial model of life, since the bodies which surround us, and our relations with them, are always socially specific.
The study of the Life of Jesus has had a curious history. It set out in quest of the historical Jesus, believing that when it had found Him it could bring Him straight into our time as a Teacher and Saviour. ... But He does not stay; He passes by our time and returns to His own... He returned to His own time, not owing to the application of any historical ingenuity, but by the same inevitable necessity by which the liberated pendulum returns to its original position.
The heart of Christianity is a myth which is also a fact. The old myth of the Dying God, without ceasing to be myth, comes down from the heaven of legend and imagination to the earth of history. It happens - at a particular date, in a particular place, followed by definable historical consequences. We pass from a Balder or an Osiris, dying nobody knows when or where, to a historical Person crucified (it is all in order) under Pontius Pilate. By becoming fact it does not cease to be myth: that is the miracle.
C. S. Lewis
Gnosticism is undeniably pre-Christian, with both Jewish and gentile roots. The wisdom of Solomon already contained Gnostic elements and prototypes for the Jesus of the Gospels... God stops being the Lord of righteous deed and becomes the Good One... A clear pre-Christian Gnosticism can be distilled from the epistles of Paul. Paul is recklessly misunderstood by those who try to read anything Historical Jesus-ish into it. The conversion of Paul in the Acts of the Apostles is a mere forgery from various Tanakh passages... [The epistles] are from Christian mystics of the middle of the second century. Paul is thus the strongest witness against the Historical Jesus hypothesis... John's Gnostic origin is more evident than that of the synoptics. Its acceptance proves that even the Church wasn't concerned with historical facts at all.
As a historian, I found myself all too often treating my historical subjects like fictional characters, malleable entities that could be made to do one thing or another, whose motivations could be speculated upon endlessly, and whose missing actions could be reconstructed and approximated based on assessments of prior and later behaviors. It was one of the hazards with working a fragmentary source base. You had little scraps, like puzzle pieces, and you could put them together as best you could. But no matter how faithful you tried to be to the historical record, there would always be that element of guesswork, of imagination, of (if we're being totally honest) fiction.
It is clear, from these considerations, that the three methods of classifying mankind-that according to physical characters, according to language, and according to culture-all reflect the historical development of races from different standpoints; and that the results of the three classifications are not comparable, because the historical facts do not affect the three classes of phenomena equally. A consideration of all these classes of facts is needed when we endeavour to reconstruct the early history of the races of mankind.
It is, let me say, at the very least by no means self-evident that there is more liberty, equality, and fraternity in the world today than there was one thousand years ago. One might arguably suggest that the opposite is true. I seek to paint no idyll of the worlds before historical capitalism. They were worlds of little liberty, little equality, and little fraternity. The only question is whether historical capitalism represented progress in these regards, or regression.
You spill a lot of beans in historical fiction. Crime fiction is about spilling no beans at all. You spill the least beans you possibly can. So because I had already written historical fiction before I was really good at the spilling beans section, but the new skill I had to learn when I was writing Brighton Belle was difficult. I had to avoid the equivalent of shouting, "this character's a murderer! Look who did it!.
I can honestly say that there are many forms of atheism that I find far more admirable than many forms of Christianity or of religion in general. But atheism that consists entirely in vacuous arguments afloat on oceans of historical ignorance, made turbulent by storms of strident self-righteousness, is as contemptible as any other form of dreary fundamentalism. And it is sometimes difficult, frankly, to be perfectly generous in one's response to the sort of invective currently fashionable among the devoutly undevout, or to the sort of historical misrepresentations it typically involves.
David Bentley Hart
Since many people have been asking me to elaborate on why I think "Inglourious Basterds" is akin to Holocaust denial, I'll try to explain what I mean as succinctly as possible, by paraphrasing Roland Barthes: anything that makes Fascism unreal is wrong. For me, "Inglourious Basterds" makes the Holocaust harder, not easier to grasp -- as a historical reality, I mean, not as a movie convention. Insofar as it becomes a movie convention, it loses its historical reality.
Accuracy is paramount in every detail of a work of history. Here's my rule: Ask yourself, 'Did this thing happen?' If the answer is yes, then it's historical. Then ask, 'Did this thing happen precisely this way?' If the answer is yes, then it's history; if the answer is no, not precisely this way, then it's historical drama.
In the Christian tradition, there is a very decisive problem in distinguishing between the senses of the terms "Jesus" and "Christ." "Jesus" refers to a historical character; "Christ" refers to an eternal principle, the Son of God: the second person of the blessed Trinity, which exists before and after all the ages and is, therefore, not historical. The sense of our tradition is that the historical character Jesus is or was the Incarnation on earth of that second person of the blessed Trinity. Now, the main point that would distinguish our tradition in this respect from (let us say) Hinduism or Buddhism is that we would say that this Incarnation was unique. That has had a special force in our tradition. Yet the main point of the Christian religion is not, certainly, that the Incarnation was unique in the case of Jesus Christ, but rather that this miracle-the eternal principle of Christ's birth, life, and death-should have some effect on the individual human spirit. There is a wonderful line from the German mystic Angelus Silesius: "Of what use, Gabriel, your message to Marie / Unless you can now bring the same message to me?"19 Likewise, the great mystic Meister Eckhart states, "It is of more worth to God that Christ should be born in the virgin soul than that Jesus should have been born in Bethlehem."20 This point is tremendously important. Many of the images-which in our religion are dogmatically affirmed as having had historical reality-are very difficult today to interpret in historical terms. For example, the Assumption of the Virgin or the ascension of Jesus to heaven both lead us to a problem: where is heaven? Somewhere up in the sky? Our contemporary cosmology does not permit us to entertain that thought very seriously. We have a collision between these articles of faith and the historical and physical sciences, which we have to admit are ruling our lives, giving us everything that we live by from day to day. This collision has destroyed people's belief in these symbolic forms; they are rejected as untrue.21 Now, since the primary truth is not the historical but the spiritual reference of these symbols, the fact that historical evidence refuts these myths on the level of objective reality should not relieve us of the symbols. These symbols stem from the psyche; they speak from and to the spirit. And they are in fact the vehicles of communication between the deeper depths of our spiritual life and this relatively thin layer of consciousness by which we govern our daylight existences.
It is important to insist on the historical truthfulness of the narrative of the fall of Adam and Eve. Just as the account of the creation of Adam and Eve is tied in with the rest of the historical narrative in the book of Genesis, so also this account of the fall of man, which follows the history of man's creation, is presented by the author as straightforward, narrative history
During the second half of the twentieth century, cross-fertilization among the disciplines of history, literature, sociology, and psychology led to scholarly awareness that historical accounts are not direct representations of actual events; they are, instead, interpretations of the meaning of events and are thus impacted by authorial bias, cultural assumptions, and linguistic frameworks. Historical accounts are conveyed through structures of stories, or in other words through the medium of narrative. This conceptual shift calls into question the assumption that histories recount factual descriptions of real events while stories narrate the literary artifice of imagine events.
Above all, it seems to me wrongheaded and dangerous to invoke historical assumptions about environmental practices of native peoples in order to justify treating them fairly... By invoking this assumption [i.e., that they were/are better environmental stewards than other peoples or parts of contemporary society] to justify fair treatment of native peoples, we imply that it would be OK to mistreat them if that assumption could be refuted. In fact, the case against mistreating them isn't based on any historical assumption about their environmental practices: it's based on a moral principle, namely, that it is morally wrong for one people to dispossess, subjugate or exterminate another people.