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kingoftheamericas

Overlaps, Based on True Events, and Historical Fictions

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Posted (edited)

Where do History and Literature meet?

 

Is one really that different from the other?  In a book "Heroes and Hero Worship" we see a great man or woman's feats and their exploits recorded by reporters and witnesses.  Yet often in less than a generation, these 'great feats' become legendary.  He didn't knock out a big man, he slew a giant. Instead of using bread for bait and netting a bunch of fish to feed friends, the person multiplied the meager for all the masses.  Then when modern researchers look for the mythical legend, they find fictions...overgrown facts.

 

This is then used to claim the individual(s) never existed at all.

 

King Arthur, Beowulf, Budda, Yeshua, Achillies, Jon Snow, Aragorn...who were they, really?  Pure fictions, or overgrown legends turned myths?

 

A man named Heinrich Schliemann took Homer's "fictions" and found a real Troy.  Does that make Homer's work a history?  How many accurate facts are required for Literature to become History?  

 

The more I read, research, and find, the more I conclude that these two studies should be combined.

Edited by kingoftheamericas

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9 hours ago, kingoftheamericas said:

Where do History and Literature meet?

 

Is one really that different from the other?  In a book "Heroes and Hero Worship" we see a great man or woman's feats and their exploits recorded by reporters and witnesses.  Yet often in less than a generation, these 'great feats' become legendary.  He didn't knock out a big man, he slew a giant. Instead of using bread for bait and netting a bunch of fish to feed friends, the person multiplied the meager for all the masses.  Then when modern researchers look for the mythical legend, they find fictions...overgrown facts.

 

This is then used to claim the individual(s) never existed at all.

 

King Arthur, Beowulf, Budda, Yeshua, Achillies, Jon Snow, Aragorn...who were they, really?  Pure fictions, or overgrown legends turned myths?

 

A man named Heinrich Schliemann took Homer's "fictions" and found a real Troy.  Does that make Homer's work a history?  How many accurate facts are required for Literature to become History?  

 

The more I read, research, and find, the more I conclude that these two studies should be combined.

I'm sure there are studies on the history that underlies historical fiction (my personal favorite genre), but are you suggesting we should no longer study actual history as a stand alone subject?

No, I do not think the finding of a real city called Troy makes Homer's work a history anymore than the fact that Jeff Shaara's books on the American Revolutionary and Civil Wars are based on journals and letters of people involved makes them histories. No offense, but I think it's kind of a dumb question.

How many accurate facts? Well, I would say that to the best of the writer's knowledge, all the facts presented must be accurate for a work to truly be history. That said, in some areas of history, there has been so much misrepresentation of fact passed off as history, that the true history has or is in danger of becoming lost.

And I think using biblical examples is a poor choice. Goliath was considered a giant, by the standards of the day, and there is archeological evidence that giants did exist. As for Jesus multiplying the bread and fish, that's a miracle and you can't explain miracles by any logical standard. There is a lot of history in the Bible, (mostly old testament), but it is a book of faith and inspiration first.

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9 hours ago, kingoftheamericas said:

King Arthur, Beowulf, Budda, Yeshua, Achillies, Jon Snow, Aragorn...who were they, really?  Pure fictions, or overgrown legends turned myths?

I am very interested in the possibility that King Arthur and Robin Hood are based on real people. But how do Jon Snow and Aragorn fit into this discussion?

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Historical fiction is the exploration of invented ideas and/or characters in a historical setting. It's storytelling.

History isn't storytelling. It's trying to understand the past, and how and why the past developed as it did.

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, The Marquis de Leech said:

Historical fiction is the exploration of invented ideas and/or characters in a historical setting. It's storytelling.

History isn't storytelling. It's trying to understand the past, and how and why the past developed as it did.

The difficulty arises when what is portrayed as history is in fact fiction.

For example, Geoffrey Le Bel's account of the murder of Edward II by red hot poker.  His captors wanted to secretly kill him.  So, Le Bel claimed that his guards ran a red hot poker up his anus, and Edward's screams were so loud that they could be heard for miles around, and people came out of their houses to kneel in the snow and pray for him.  Then, the same people followed his funeral procession from Berkeley to Gloucester.  This is an absurd story, straight out of martyrology, written 40 years after the event in question, which plenty of historians have treated as unquestioned truth.

If you want to kill someone secretly, running a red hot poker up their backside is the worst way of going about it.  Leaving aside the screaming, it would probably take several days to die from peritonitis.

Edited by SeanF

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13 hours ago, SansaJonRule said:

I'm sure there are studies on the history that underlies historical fiction (my personal favorite genre), but are you suggesting we should no longer study actual history as a stand alone subject?

No, I do not think the finding of a real city called Troy makes Homer's work a history anymore than the fact that Jeff Shaara's books on the American Revolutionary and Civil Wars are based on journals and letters of people involved makes them histories. No offense, but I think it's kind of a dumb question.

How many accurate facts? Well, I would say that to the best of the writer's knowledge, all the facts presented must be accurate for a work to truly be history. That said, in some areas of history, there has been so much misrepresentation of fact passed off as history, that the true history has or is in danger of becoming lost.

And I think using biblical examples is a poor choice. Goliath was considered a giant, by the standards of the day, and there is archeological evidence that giants did exist. As for Jesus multiplying the bread and fish, that's a miracle and you can't explain miracles by any logical standard. There is a lot of history in the Bible, (mostly old testament), but it is a book of faith and inspiration first.

I strongly suggest Literature and History should be combined.  Today most Universities combine History and Government.

Shaara's Histories ARE History...as "academically speaking" History begins with primary sources.  Without them, it is called Archaeology.  I take no offense to being accused of asking a dumb question.  This is the internet, trolls use such tactics to inflame actual debate.  I shall ignore such attempts here.

True History?  Isn't that a matter of perspective?  How many Jews were killed by the Nazis?  If you are off by ONE, does that mean you can't write a book about it and call it History?

I used several Literary and Historic examples.  I could use Paul Bunyan just as easily.  Did you know he was a real person, over 7 feet tall, and used a black water buffalo, that glinted blue in the sun.  Since Babe had a lower center gravity, he could haul bigger loads.  Since Paul axe was 3 times as heavy as a normal one, he could do the work of 2 two man teams.  He and Babe could easily clear an acer of land in a day.  Today the tale has grown...  Even in my own life, I spoke with this Rugby fan, who 'heard' that Dion and Barry Sanders were siamese twins separated at birth!

Calling the Bible 'one book' is more than a little inaccurate.  Is it Literature or History, or should it be considered both?  That is the question.

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13 hours ago, SansaJonRule said:

I am very interested in the possibility that King Arthur and Robin Hood are based on real people. But how do Jon Snow and Aragorn fit into this discussion?

I think both Jon Snow and Aragorn were based on the same real person.

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3 hours ago, The Marquis de Leech said:

Historical fiction is the exploration of invented ideas and/or characters in a historical setting. It's storytelling.

History isn't storytelling. It's trying to understand the past, and how and why the past developed as it did.

But how do we go about this 'understanding'?  They/Histories are words with meanings...in order to understand why people used the words they did, we need the Literary context in which they were created.  

 

If I said "That is rad!"  What did I mean?  Was I saying it was cool, or was I mocking it?  You'd need the social context to truly know...

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17 minutes ago, SeanF said:

The difficulty arises when what is portrayed as history is in fact fiction.

For example, Geoffrey Le Bel's account of the murder of Edward II by red hot poker.  His captors wanted to secretly kill him.  So, Le Bel claimed that his guards ran a red hot poker up his anus, and Edward's screams were so loud that they could be heard for miles around, and people came out of their houses to kneel in the snow and pray for him.  Then, the same people followed his funeral procession from Berkeley to Gloucester.  This is an absurd story, straight out of martyrology, written 40 years after the event in question, which plenty of historians have treated as unquestioned truth.

If you want to kill someone secretly, running a red hot poker up their backside is the worst way of going about it.  Leaving aside the screaming, it would probably take several days to die from peritonitis.

Agreed.

It is clearly a fictionalized version of History...sounds like a horror story to me...

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11 minutes ago, kingoftheamericas said:

Agreed.

It is clearly a fictionalized version of History...sounds like a horror story to me...

I'll give you a counter-example.  Messalina's marriage to Gaius Silius.  She was the Emperor Claudius' wife he was consul.  While Claudius was in Ostia, they got married, bigamously, presumably as a prelude to launching a coup against Claudius.  If so, the coup was a complete failure.  Tacitus in his account says that it sounds like fiction, but he checked the facts and this is what really happened.  So, sometimes, the unbelievable story is true.

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1 hour ago, SeanF said:

The difficulty arises when what is portrayed as history is in fact fiction.

For example, Geoffrey Le Bel's account of the murder of Edward II by red hot poker.  His captors wanted to secretly kill him.  So, Le Bel claimed that his guards ran a red hot poker up his anus, and Edward's screams were so loud that they could be heard for miles around, and people came out of their houses to kneel in the snow and pray for him.  Then, the same people followed his funeral procession from Berkeley to Gloucester.  This is an absurd story, straight out of martyrology, written 40 years after the event in question, which plenty of historians have treated as unquestioned truth.

If you want to kill someone secretly, running a red hot poker up their backside is the worst way of going about it.  Leaving aside the screaming, it would probably take several days to die from peritonitis.

Such a thing is still different from Literature. A historical approach is analysing this primary source - generally for potential bias, but also reliability in this case - comparing it with other primary sources, and fitting the whole thing within a wider context.

Literature does not concern itself with such things. Shakespeare's Richard III is only accidentally concerned with history (mostly the fact that the author was writing for Henry Tudor's granddaughter) - and it would be a mistake to approach it as history. Shakespeare's Richard III, like the Beowulf poem, must be analysed first and foremost as a work of art. This Edward II story - true or not - is not Literature, because one does not approach it via a literary method. It's simply false History. 

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1 hour ago, kingoftheamericas said:

But how do we go about this 'understanding'?  They/Histories are words with meanings...in order to understand why people used the words they did, we need the Literary context in which they were created.  

If I said "That is rad!"  What did I mean?  Was I saying it was cool, or was I mocking it?  You'd need the social context to truly know...

History is interested in context. Literature is not. Death of the Author and all that.

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6 hours ago, The Marquis de Leech said:

History is interested in context. Literature is not. Death of the Author and all that.

Wait, WHAT?

If History were interested in context, it would be combined with Literature or Sociology.  

So, literature isn't interested in context???

You've totally lost me...

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Posted (edited)

Wait, WHAT?

there's schools of literary theory that have historicist assumptions--that the significance of the text is to be located in the historical context, or that the salient evidence is historical.  there are however other types of interpretive assumptions that can be made that need not be historicist.

Edited by sologdin

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29 minutes ago, sologdin said:

Wait, WHAT?

there's schools of literary theory that have historicist assumptions--that the significance of the text is to be located in the historical context, or that the salient evidence is historical.  there are however other types of interpretive assumptions that can be made that need not be historicist.

go ahead...expound

 

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Why are we assuming that because some literature might be based of "historical fact" or facts at all, it's means that all literature must necessarily be so?

Also, why would the "facticity" of history (if that is even a thing) necessarily exclude it from be presented as if a narrative?  Is that not what Marx-via-Hegel is supposing to be the case?  (Rightly or wrongly.)

Then again, what could be said to exist a-historically?  So, literature is a part of history, as a matter of course.  Unless we can imagine literature existing outside the realm of space and time.  But that doesn't mean that history and literature are the same thing, just because one is nested inside the other.  In the same way that my intestine is not "me" even though it is necessarily a part of (the entity) me.

On 4/22/2019 at 6:28 AM, kingoftheamericas said:

How many accurate facts are required for Literature to become History?

Exactly 100%, no more, no less.

What exactly would be a "partially factual" history be?

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13 hours ago, The Marquis de Leech said:

Historical fiction is the exploration of invented ideas and/or characters in a historical setting. It's storytelling.

History isn't storytelling. It's trying to understand the past, and how and why the past developed as it did.

I think that is the best, most concise explanation of it.

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