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PDF | On Jun 1, , Hsu-Ming Teo and others published Historical fiction and fictions of history. Although contemporary historical novels share a number of features with the historical novel, as analysed by Lukács (), they display a fundamental. PDF Drive is your search engine for PDF files. As of today we have 78,, eBooks for you to download for free. No annoying ads, no download limits, enjoy .

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More Historical Fiction Books. Tin Can Serenade: A Short S Latest Free site Promotions. Tallulah Thursday. Historical Fiction. Waverley offered readers a way of understanding history that went far beyond being a catalogue of facts, instead refracting the past through the kind of intimate psychological interiority of which the novel form had shown itself peculiarly capable. His book was an international literary sensation that inspired countless followers, and although the historical novel has developed in many directions during the subsequent two centuries, the form that Scott founded continues to thrive today.

From its beginnings, historical fiction has contained a number of apparent contradictions. This basic tension gives rise to others. Historical fiction is constantly negotiating these dual assumptions of sameness and difference in its representation of past lives.

In addition, it must incorporate another kind of double focus — first, on the private affairs of perhaps fictional individuals, and secondly on the large sweep of great public events and epochs. Historical fiction is not of course a unique genre in needing to balance various conflicting demands, although it is unusual in the extent to which it may be said to have been precipitated by them.

However, I shall argue that counterfactual historical fiction not only acknowledges these conflicts but provides practical ways to incorporate them successfully within the parameters of historical narratives. The relationship of didacticism to the question of historical accuracy is thus far from being a straightforward one.

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Interrogating the Distinction between Historical and Counterfactual Fiction One way to view the various ways of writing about the past is in terms of a hierarchy, in which each step is at a further remove from reality. At the top of the hierarchy sits the past itself, immutable, inscrutable, inaccessible. Next comes the surviving evidence of the past in the form of artefacts, historical documents and so on.

These in turn give rise to the interpretations of historians, intended as a factual account but also as a way of mediating the past and making it comprehensible to present-day understanding.


Historical novelists use the work of historians as the basis of a fictional narrative. And finally, counterfactual novelists write fictions that are defined precisely by their divergence from the historical record. As noted above, all historical fiction diverges from history, simply by virtue of its fictionality. With this in mind, one might argue that counterfactual history differs from conventional historical fiction partly in being more explicit — and thus more honest — about its departures from historical accuracy.

The most obvious difference between the two varieties of historical fiction is that conventional historical fiction typically refrains from offering outright contradictions of consensus accounts of historical facts, instead operating in the interstices of the historical record by fleshing out facts with plausible narratives or concentrating on events and parts of society that have received little detailed historical scrutiny.

Counterfactual history by contrast offers precisely such a contradiction of the historical record.

Nevertheless, The Prince and the Pauper is not generally considered as a counterfactual fiction, but rather as a historical novel, as are many novels by such nineteenth-century authors as Alexandre Dumas and Harrison Ainsworth that take comparable liberties with consensus history.

Nor are more recent examples lacking. There is no simple criterion by which to make such a distinction, because counterfactuality is an integral part of all historical fiction. What is counterfactual history for?

But what purposes might writers for children have in changing history?

There are numerous possible answers, some of which I have already touched on. Counterfactual history is able to take this process further, adapting historical events to conform more closely to the narrative structures and themes that readers are likely to find satisfying or acceptable.

As an example of this kind of adaptation of history to the demands of narrative convention, one might consider the strong bias in folk tale, romance and fantasy in favour of stories in which usurpers are cruel rulers, while deposed monarchs and lost heirs are generally assumed to have to the good of their people at heart.

There is no reason to believe that either of these things need hold true in the world beyond fiction, but this narrative preference has arguably exerted a real bias on the ways in which children learn about historical figures such as, for example, Charles I or Richard III.

The Glorious Revolution of , in which James II was deposed by William of Orange, is perhaps the prime example in English history of a usurpation that was not only successful but by facilitating the Hanoverian dynasty gave direct rise to the political dispensation in Britain today.

Causation is notoriously difficult to establish in matters of historical change, but the fact that something has happened can easily encourage people into believing that it was bound to happen. Grand narratives are those stories we tell each other about the past amongst other things which work to legitimise particular views of the world and of society.

To open up a non-Thucydidean space for fiction Consensus accounts of history offer a framework within which conventional historical fiction situates itself. Whether this framework is regarded as a helpful scaffold for fictional creation or as a constrictive cage is likely to vary according to the writer and what they wish to do.

Joan Aiken reported that the opportunity of freedom from historical accuracy was a catalyst in freeing her imagination generally: Have you ever noticed how peculiarly liberating it is to follow a conventional pattern in nearly all respects, but to include one odd factor? This was what I found with [The Wolves of Willoughby Chase] — having a Stuart king and a few wolves in the middle of the nineteenth century somehow set me free to enjoy myself.

I wrote a straightforward rags-to-riches-to-rags-to-riches nineteenth century tale, and had tremendous fun filling in my own details.

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In fact, her nineteenth-century England includes numerous absurdities unrelated to its counterfactual historical setting. Where did all the Branch Points Go? However, consideration of a variety of counterfactual historical fictions for children suggests that this is too simplistic a criterion, and that in many counterfactual histories the branch point is either ambiguous or vestigial. Branch points, apparently so crucial to the genre, are frequently elusive or inconsistent in practice, as a consideration of some more recent examples will demonstrate.

Her story is set in , and Davidson has sketched out a geopolitical situation and path of historical development that might indeed have plausibly followed from her chosen branch point.

Sophie, after all, does not know she is living in a different timeline from that of her readers, nor that this battle marks the point at which their worlds diverged.

Also notable is the way in which Davidson plays with the histories of some historical individuals who in our world achieved fame in the century after Waterloo. The semi-humorous point about the arbitrariness of fame and the unexpected consequences of a single change to history is clear, but there is no reason to suppose that the people who achieved distinction in our world would still be famous in the counterfactual one, still less for such different achievements.

In the case of Northern Lights this branch point is not identified with a single event such as a battle , but appears to have occurred just before the events known in our world as the Reformation. Even more egregiously, each human being has a companion in animal form known as a daemon, who is a physical manifestation of their soul. Nor is this a post-sixteenth-century development: In short, the ways in which Northern Lights implicitly claims the status of counterfactual history are strongly undercut by its fantasy elements.

Steampunk typically involves a counterfactual, quasi-Victorian world in which steam, clockwork and airship technology are not superseded by electricity or the internal combustion engine, but have been developed in ways that in our own history were choked off by rival technologies. In the world of Noughts and Crosses society is divided on racial lines, with the powerful Crosses ruling over the oppressed noughts, in a situation that evokes the period of Jim Crow laws in the United States.

Certainly, the love affair between teens Sephy a Cross and Callum a nought is unthinkable in this climate. In a powerful inversion of historical reality Blackman imagines that the ruling Crosses are black, and that it is the subjugated noughts who are white.

This move allows her to expose many truths about power relationships between races in the world we live in that might otherwise pass unnoticed, especially by white readers, ranging from the relatively trivial sticking plasters are only available in colours matching the skin tones of the dominant race , to the systematic erasure of the achievements of people of other races.

Elsewhere in the book, however, Blackman hints at an alternative branch point, when she has a school teacher make a rather cryptic reference to BC as crucial date in history In our world this was the year of the third Punic war, in which Rome finally destroyed its African rival, Carthage. Finally, in a scene set in a school history lesson, Blackman has Callum name a number of black innovators and explorers who are famous in the world of the novel, but relatively unknown in our own.

Maggot Moon is a counterfactual history in which s Britain is under occupation by a totalitarian regime. There are many things that Standish either does not know or neglects to mention.

Numerous features seem designed to suggest that the regime of Maggot Moon is a Nazi one. And yes, that date was indeed a Thursday.

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The effect is to generalise the situation in which Standish Treadwell and his community find themselves, invoking the familiar device of a counterfactual Nazi Britain to give solidity and historical resonance to a portrait that might otherwise appear quite abstract in its depiction and overly obvious in its totalitarianism-is-bad morality. In interview, Gardner has described the book very much in these terms: What if things had been different?

This planted the seed for writing an alternative history — a fable — if you like. The Motherland is essentially any tyrannical dictatorship the reader chooses to make it.

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Maggot Moon, similarly, straddles historical categories: As I have argued, counterfactual and conventional history are more closely related than is generally acknowledged — to the extent that it seems reasonable to consider conventional historical fiction as a special category within the wider realm of counterfactual history. In recent decades, counterfactual historical fiction for children has increasingly exhibited a degree of generic hybridity. The historical contradictions and lacunae precipitated by this hybridity tend to be subordinated to the immediate needs of the fiction, which are not generally centred on the elaboration of a plausible and consistent alternative history.

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase. Jonathan Cape, Blackman, Malorie. Noughts and Crosses.

Corgi, Chandler, Pauline. The Mark of Edain. Davidson, Jenny.Telluride, Colorado. This planted the seed for writing an alternative history — a fable — if you like.

Jane E. Regardless of how long ago an historical novel takes place, accuracy and authenticity of the historical setting are absolutely essential. The specificity of fiction I want to stress here is its multi-layered narrative structure, based on the necessary separation of the author and the narrator in fiction.

Where a text has a primarily adult readership, some pre-existing historical knowledge may reasonably be assumed, but this assumption is far less easy to make with child readers. In interview, Gardner has described the book very much in these terms:

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