Welcome to the Historical Fiction Online forums: a friendly place to discuss, review and discover historical fiction.
If this is your first visit, please be sure to check out the FAQ by clicking the link above.
You will have to register before you can post: click the register link above to proceed.
To start viewing posts, select the forum that you want to visit from the selection below.

Philosophical Historical Novels

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.
Post Reply
User avatar
Posts: 2440
Joined: August 2008
Interest in HF: I can't answer this in 100 characters. Sorry.
Favourite HF book: Checkmate, the final novel in the Lymond series
Preferred HF: Literary novels. Late medieval and Renaissance.
Location: Catskill, New York, USA

Philosophical Historical Novels

Post by Margaret » Thu May 3rd, 2012, 7:11 am

Lots of historical novels have philosophical angles of one sort and another, but relatively few have delved into the lives of philosophers, from Plato and Aristotle to those of more recent centuries. Some of these novels, though, are among the best of the best, at least IMHO.

Richard Lee of the Historical Novel Society asked me to write a little something for the magnificent new incarnation of their website (same web address, with glorious new graphics, organization and features), so I covered "The Philosophical Historical Novel." Here's the link for anyone interested: http://historicalnovelsociety.org/guide ... cal-novel/.

And do check out the new HNS website: http://historicalnovelsociety.org/
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

Posts: 4585
Joined: August 2008

Post by annis » Thu May 3rd, 2012, 7:39 am

An interesting collection, Margaret. I'm reading one at the moment which might qualify- Helen Waddell's Abelard, which focuses on Abelard as theological Platonist. There are a few mysteries around as well which feature philosophers, like Michael Gregorio's series which features a collaboration between a young German magistrate and the philosopher Immanuel Kant, Margaret Doody's Aristotle series and the S.J. Parris series about Giordano Bruni.

The updated HNS site is excellent, isn't it? I like particularly the access to the various articles.
Last edited by annis on Thu May 3rd, 2012, 7:49 am, edited 7 times in total.

User avatar
Posts: 1346
Joined: September 2008
Location: Georgia USA

Post by Ludmilla » Thu May 3rd, 2012, 2:58 pm

Gore Vidal's Creation springs to mind.

I'm guessing you could expand the list or create a sub-category for fiction with major characters who embody philosophical ideals or schools of thought. I'm thinking of Petronius from Quo Vadis, for example.

Naomi Mitchison also depicts Stoic and Epicurean philosophers in The Corn King and the Spring Queen. They are secondary rather than major characters in that book. I got a kick out of how she used them.

Have there been any historical novels about Descartes or Voltaire? I want to say I've come across one or two, but can't remember.

Posts: 15
Joined: April 2012

Post by Village » Tue May 8th, 2012, 4:40 pm

Mary Renault's Last of the Wine devotes a large amount of the focus to Socrates and those around him.

Post Reply

Return to “General Discussion”