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is there a "cutoff" point for historical fiction?

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Kveto from Prague
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is there a "cutoff" point for historical fiction?

Post by Kveto from Prague » Sat November 22nd, 2008, 11:35 am

this has no doubt been discussed before, but i was just wondering if there is a cutoff point when its no longer historical fiction but contemporary fiction? does it have to do with how much distance of time there is between the books setting and when it was written? does it have an era as a stopping point? for instance WWII novels seem to be historical fiction (if written after the war, not during) but things written today and set in th 60s or 80s wouldnt be considered historical fiction by most people.

im sure theres not a definitive answer, i just wanted to see what peoples opinions are.

thnx

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EC2
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Post by EC2 » Sat November 22nd, 2008, 11:56 am

For me, 'real' historical fiction ends at the same time as WWII and 'really real' historical fiction would be earlier than that even - Edwardian and WWI.
However, I accept that it's way more fluid than that, and twenty or even 10 years ago is technically historical fiction. I would rather read earlier than later, but it's only a matter of degree. It's all grist to the mill. The HNS Review has a 20thC section that takes in the 50's, 60's 70's and even the 80's. I've lived through 3 of these decades and it does make one start to feel a bit of an old cronk to see these eras written as historical fiction.
I don't consider it to be historical fiction if the author was writing about the time in which they lived. So to me, Austen, Dickens and Bronte etc are not historical fiction authors, whereas Sir Walter Scott is because in say, Ivanhoe, he was writing about a time far removed from his own.
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Alaric
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Post by Alaric » Sat November 22nd, 2008, 12:08 pm

For me, it's always been to the end of World War II. I have always considered novels after it to be more contemporary in their nature, so a setting of the Vietnam War or the Cold War or whatever is contemporary for now - like, a spy thriller set during the Cold War isn't a historical spy thriller, it's just a spy thriller. Give it a few more decades, let's say into the 2020s, then I think it can be considered historical fiction.

[quote=""EC2""]So to me, Austen, Dickens and Bronte etc are not historical fiction authors, whereas Sir Walter Scott is because in say, Ivanhoe, he was writing about a time far removed from his own.[/quote]

I think A Tale of Two Cities is historical fiction as it was written more than fifty years after the French Revolution. Essentially that falls under the same criteria of a modern author writing about World War II being classed as historical fiction.

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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Sat November 22nd, 2008, 2:38 pm

My vote is for any fiction where the last possible eyewitness is dead. People write memoirs which include WWI and WWII. If you can pick up a memoir by a living author that covers the period, how 'fictional' could it be?

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Divia
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Post by Divia » Sat November 22nd, 2008, 4:16 pm

For me it would be anything during world war II, but even that is pushing it fo rme. For my students it would be events in the 50s, 60s and 70s!

I think I like EC2's explination the best. :D
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LCW
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Post by LCW » Sat November 22nd, 2008, 4:23 pm

Personally, I think if the novel is written in an era that you cover in History 101 or 102 (those are college intro History classes) then it counts as HF. To me, the 50's are definitely part of History. The 60's, not so much, because I'm so familiar with the era from constantly hearing about it from my Hippie parents and their friends. Also I studed the era quite a bit to learn about the Civil Right movement. But I guess technically, it could be considered History. I was born in the mid 70's so that's not really historical to me! I guess it's pretty much a generational thing as to what each person considers "history".
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Post by Helen_Davis » Sat November 22nd, 2008, 7:27 pm

Would a novel on Eva Peron be historical fiction?

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Post by alice » Sat November 22nd, 2008, 8:10 pm

When I used to work in Public Libraries, we split our fiction into genres, and our historical fiction ended at the turn of the 19th/beginning of the 20th century, although of course history is anything that happened yesterday!

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Divia
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Post by Divia » Sat November 22nd, 2008, 8:18 pm

[quote=""Andromeda_Organa""]Would a novel on Eva Peron be historical fiction?[/quote]

Was she in the 30s? I dont know when she lived/died. If she did then yes.
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Volgadon
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Post by Volgadon » Sat November 22nd, 2008, 9:24 pm

[quote=""Andromeda_Organa""]Would a novel on Eva Peron be historical fiction?[/quote]

I think it would. There was in 2003 (maybe a bit earlier) an Argentinian soap opera set in Peronian Argentina. Juan and Evita even had a few cameos.
Can't remeber the storyline, think it was about a Zorro-like priest who is fighting the corrupt officials. There was so much murder in that show that it made the Godfather look like something for preschool.
It was really popular when I was in the army. One of the guys wouldn't even come for guard duty when it was on, would just sit in the club watching.

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