Eric Mayer

Byzantine Blog

Get Email Updates
Cruel Music
Diana Rowland
Martin Edwards
Electric Grandmother
Jane Finnis
Keith Snyder
My Incredibly Unremarkable Life
Mysterious Musings
Mystery of a Shrinking Violet
The Rap Sheet
reenie's reach
Thoughts from Crow Cottage
This Writing Life
Woodstock's Blog
Email Me

Admin Password

Remember Me

1481412 Curiosities served
Share on Facebook

Uses of History
Previous Entry :: Next Entry

Read/Post Comments (4)

Jerz's Literacy Weblog pointed me to John Spurlock's essay on The Uses of History in The Blue Monkey Review. John, says "... for most people, it seems that their concept of history settled into a fixed evaluation (usually a negative one) based on a class taken long before college. Every time someone asks me what I teach, I brace for their inevitable reaction. They usually tell me something like, 'I was horrible at history,' or, 'I hated history.'"

Neither Mary nor I have done much formal study of history, but we find it endlessly fascinating. How can anyone fail to be interested in knowing what the human race has been up to all these years? We write historical mysteries and it suprises me how many readers state, flat out, that they don't like historicals. Although not liking historical mysteries isn't exactly the same as not liking history, I suspect there's often some of that antipathy to history in it. In the publishing world, anything historical, generally, has a much lower potential sales ceiling than a nonhistorical.

John's essay is a nice meditation on what the study of the past can teach us and to an extent, what it can't. No doubt there are lessons to be learned, but history is longer even than the Bible and we all have a tendency to find confirmation in it of what we believe. Mary and I try, as best we can, to write our books as if we are living in the time of Emperor Justinian, with no inkling of what the world will become in another 1500 years. We don't like the pracice of purposely drawing the reader's attention to perceived parallels with the present, as if this is somehow necessary to validate or make palatable, the fact that the setting is someone else's time and not our own. An impossible task, of course. Our past is different than Justinian's, and from the past as seen by the ancient Greeks, and the Victorians. A hundred years from now people will have a different past. Their Justinian will not be the same as the one we know.

Read/Post Comments (4)

Previous Entry :: Next Entry

Back to Top

Powered by JournalScape © 2001-2010 All rights reserved.
All content rights reserved by the author.