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Quotes at Each Chapter

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Posts: 1462
Joined: August 2008
Interest in HF: I love history, but it's boring in school. Historical fiction brings it alive for me.
Preferred HF: Iron-Age Britain, Roman Britain, Medieval Britain
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Quotes at Each Chapter

Post by Rowan » Mon January 2nd, 2017, 2:38 pm

I don't think this phenomena is exclusive to any particular genre, but I'm currently juggling both HF and detective fiction at the moment. In the latter books, the author has chosen to insert a quote at the beginning of each chapter. That is, there's the chapter number, then the quote, then the continuation of the action of the plot. I'm trying to figure out if that serves a purpose. In the third of the books published so far, the quote is actually a line or two of lyrics from the band that was a favorite main character's mother. So I can kinda see a relation there. However, there seemed to be no relation between the quotes and the plot of the two previous books.

My question is: what purpose is there, if any, to using quotes in that manner?

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Favourite HF book: Checkmate, the final novel in the Lymond series
Preferred HF: Literary novels. Late medieval and Renaissance.
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Re: Quotes at Each Chapter

Post by Margaret » Sun March 5th, 2017, 7:27 am

Sometimes I think these are fun (and sometimes I find them kind of annoying if they feel intrusive). I think quotes like this were particularly well done in Donald Smith's Colonial America mystery novel The Constable's Tale (for review, see http://www.historicalnovels.info/Constables-Tale.html). The protagonist is a lower class guy who wants to rise into a higher class bracket, so he carefully studies the etiquette book compiled by George Washington (Rules of Civility - a real book). Each chapter opens with one of these rules. Sometimes they are more pertinent to the content of the chapter than other times, but they provide a really interesting window into the culture of the time - Americans had not yet thrown off the yoke of the British class system, but were already trying to make it less rigid.
Browse over 5000 historical novel listings (probably well over 5000 by now, but I haven't re-counted lately) and over 700 reviews at www.HistoricalNovels.info

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Currently reading: Lincoln in the Bardo
Interest in HF: I'm writing a historical novel set during the Irish Famine in the 1840s
Favourite HF book: The Dante Club, by Matthew Pearl
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Re: Quotes at Each Chapter

Post by tdkerst » Sat March 25th, 2017, 2:53 am

I like this use of quotes as prelude to chapters in historical fiction, particularly if they come from relevant contemporary sources. They lend a kind of thematic texture.

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