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The Value of Fiction

For discussions of historical fiction. Threads that do not relate to historical fiction should be started in the Chat forum or elsewhere on the forum, depending on the topic.
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Rowan
Bibliophile
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
Location: New Orleans
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The Value of Fiction

Post by Rowan » Thu September 23rd, 2010, 12:31 pm

I don't know how many of you have signed up for any of the newsletters on About.com, but I have subscribed to two of them: Medieval History and Ancient History. The newsletter I got today has an interesting article written by the About.com guide for Medieval History about the value of historical fiction to the broader subject of history. Usually there's a place to comment at the end of articles, but not for this particular one so I thought I'd simply direct your attention to the article and allow for discussion here. I also considered starting a thread on the forums there, but I've never had a positive experience on About.com's forums. So....

The Value of Fiction

Ash
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 2475
Joined: August 2008
Location: Arizona, USA

Post by Ash » Thu September 23rd, 2010, 1:47 pm

Well, there's no question for me how valuable HF is to historical works. Even as a kid I'd go from a story to the encyclopedia to see the 'real story'. As I got older I got into the habit of reading a non fiction account of something I read about in a book, and even if I don't exactly do that as much now, I will often google the topic to find out more, which often leads me to more books, and then more history. Its a delightful circle that I hope never stops!

Pity that the article does not make mention of some of the better HF around, or link a reader to certain sites like this one.
Last edited by Ash on Thu September 23rd, 2010, 1:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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fljustice
Bibliophile
Posts: 1995
Joined: March 2010
Location: Brooklyn, NY
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Post by fljustice » Thu September 23rd, 2010, 5:18 pm

Ditto what Ash said. I started reading historical fiction as a child, then would go the encyclopedia. I've been a history buff ever since. When telling people about my obsession, I always make the point that history is about people--real folks who had to eat, love, struggle to provide for their families, satisfy the demands of their egos. Shorthand: history as soap opera, but with real world consequences.

I take the point about HF books, films, TV shows, etc. not having to offer documentation, but "Author Notes", source acknowledgments, and "extras" on DVD's can give the reader/watcher a fair idea of how closely writers/directors follow the "truth." They're not perfect, but help. Fiction and film are interpretive "art" and academic history might be more akin to "science." But whether it's fiction or not, the story is always key in whether I enjoy and/or learn anything from the book/movie.
Faith L. Justice, Author Website
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