- “Historical fiction can never be authentic”
- “Historical fiction is a lie”
- “Historical fiction invariably fails to portray the strangeness of the past”.
“Historical fiction can never be authentic”
|Henry James by John Singer Sargent.|
National Portrait Gallery. Public domain.
“Historical fiction is a lie”
|Napoleon crosses the St. Bernard, by Jacques-Louis|
David, 1800. Public domain.
“historical novel has always been a literary form at war with itself. The very term, implying a fiction somehow grounded in fact – a lie with obscure obligations to the truth – is suggestive of the contradictions of the genre.”
“Historical fiction invariably fails to portray the strangeness of the past”
“depicts modern people, sensibilities and conflicts but…cloaks them expediently with props from history’s wardrobe: ruffs and farthingales, gibbets and jousts.”But, by contrast, he said, serio-historical fiction:
“exposes the reader to a profound whiff of strangeness”.
- We living in the present can never fully understand the inner lives of people living in the past and therefore may not be able to portray their thoughts and voices with any degree of authenticity;
- Historical fiction is in itself a contradiction, lies pretending to be the truth;
- Some historical novels fail to reflect the strangeness of the past, dressing their characters in authentic-looking clothes but giving them modern sensibilities.