Popular Historical Fiction Books

David Mitchell on Historical Fiction
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Back in 1994, I wasn’t a published writer but the place crackled with fictional potential and, 12 years later, I began to reconstruct Dejima myself in a book now published as The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet. I didn’t set out to write a historical novel just for the heck of it – you’d have to be mad. Rather, only within this genre could the book be written. This being my first, I read a number of others to avoid reinventing wheels. Small hope, but my reading led me to a new respect for a genre that sometimes gets associated with blue-rinses and rags-to-riches sagas set in Liverpool. No disrespect to Liverpool, but historical fiction goes back somewhat further.

A flash lawyer at the Court of Genre could find elements of historical fiction in early medieval texts such as The Voyage of Saint Brendan. This eighth-century Latin account mixes “facts” about Brendan of Clonfert, medieval shipbuilding and (Icelandic?) volcanoes with trippier elaborations such as psalm-singing birds and an interview with Judas Iscariot. The problem is trying to guess whether The Voyage’s educated author believed he was recording history, or creating parables framed in the past. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle presents similar ambiguities, mixing a no-nonsense history of Britain from pre-Roman times with some more floral assertions – that King Alfred, for example, was a direct descendant of Bældæg, son of the Norse god Woden.

By the 1300s, many surviving bestsellers are set in the past, or at least in a past: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (King Arthur’s England) and chunks of Chaucer’s The Knight’s Tale (Ancient Thebes and Athens) and The Man of Law’s Tale (King Ælla’s Northumbria), among others. But were these tales really “history” to their contemporary readers in the same way that the Crimean War is history to us? Or were they more like tales from the hygienic medieval villages of Ladybird’s “Best-Loved Fairy Tales”? For my money, historical fiction emerged as a sentient genre when Shakespeare and his contemporaries shoplifted from sources such as Holinshed for backdrop, names and plots, and presented these stage-worlds as the real thing. The dramatis personae boasted characters purporting to be the real thing, interacting with (and lending reality to) other characters who were understood to be fictional.

The 18th century severed the umbilical cord to European romances, true histories and bent travelogues, and delivered the earliest English novels (Robinson Crusoe, Gulliver’s Travels, Richardson’s Pamela and Fielding’s Tom Jones). Hot on their heels appear some early contenders for the title of “first historical novel”.

Source: www.telegraph.co.uk


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There are a lot of historical fiction books for

2008-12-21 16:44:22 by grey-athome-mom

Girls. Ten might be a good time for Island of the Blue Dolphins if she is fairly mature. There are series that the American dolls books were copied from...
The Clues books are really popular this year.

You seem to believe Zeus is historical?

2004-08-01 01:58:45 by _

" the 12thC was written/forged by people (rulers in power, I assume?) to give themselves legitimacy. This would have required the creation of a LOT of documents/artifacts. Thousands would have to be involved."
When the printing press was invented, thousands and thousands of books were printed. Collectors have many of these old books ... so what?
You want us to believe that these old books from the 1500s are really secretly transcribed ancient documents that describe real history, and not popular fiction written to sell books?
You are promoting a conspiracy theory, no one else.

More agencies

2007-10-05 06:58:54 by lillylanghorne

Farris Literary Agency, P.O. Box 570069, Dallas TX 75357. farrisliterary.com. Est. 2002. Member agents: Mike Farris, Susan Morgan Farris. Stats: 60% of clients are new/unpublished writers. Represents 40% nonfiction books, 60% novels. Needs: nonfiction (biography/autobiography, business/economics, child guidance/parenting, cooking/foods/nutrition, current affairs, government/politics/law, health/medicine, history, how-to, humor/satire, memoirs, military/war, music/dance, popular culture, religious/inspirational, self-help/personal improvement, sports, women's issues/studies); fiction (action/adventure, detective/police/crime, historical, humor/satire, mainstream/contemporary, mystery/suspense, religious/inspirational, romance, sports, thriller, Westerns/frontier)

Funny you should ask,

2013-05-09 13:45:33 by seekerTRUTH

I'm re-framing a review I wrote for Cormac McCarthy's All the Pretty Horses and will submit here shortly.
I've enjoyed several of Kingsolver's books (Poisonwood Bible is my favorite. Bean Trees, though perhaps the most popular, I liked less. Prodigal Summer makes my mouth water.)
I like some sci-fi, wouldn't mind talking about Orson Scott Card, or Frank Herbert or someone in that vein I haven't read.
Steinbeck is my all time favorite, but he gets talked about here a lot, second only to Hemingway, I think.
Non-fiction too


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