The Relativism of Historical Truth

Use this forum to discuss the June 2018 Book of the Month"The Girl Who Knew da Vinci" by Belle Ami
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The Relativism of Historical Truth

Post by cristinaro » 01 Jun 2018, 16:34

Visiting the Uffizi Gallery, Angela tackles the issue of whether the missing painting belongs to Leonardo da Vinci or not. As she learns the real story of the painting, she ponders on the relativism of historical truth: “It makes you wonder how many other things we consider true about the past are shadowed in misconceptions and cover-ups.”

What are your views on the matter? Would you be tempted to google some historical names and places in the novel to distinguish between fact and fiction?
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Post by Miriam Molina » 04 Jun 2018, 20:44

I actually plan to Google the historical details. But I know that recorded history may not be accurate. The powers-that-be can and do dictate history.

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Post by Kendra M Parker » 05 Jun 2018, 07:52

Your comment reminds me of the book that was popular a little while ago called Lies My Teacher Told Me. History is written by the “winners” or those in charge. When you go back to look at original sources from the “losing” side, it is interesting to see how often things look very different from that other side. Both sides use propaganda throughout history and part of a historian's job is to sort out the propaganda from the truth.

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Post by alisonedgee » 05 Jun 2018, 21:21

I would. Personally, whatever the content is, be it film/books/tv/ w/e, if you're going to use real things be accurate. It really bothers be knowing that there are pointless inaccuracies in things. If you're going to have characters visit a place, a real, well know landmark, fgs do the research to make it realistic. If you're not willing to put in the effort then just say 'a street' or 'a gallery' you know.

its a little pet peeve i guess.

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Post by ChrisChatfield » 05 Jun 2018, 22:13

Most facts, historical facts are no exception, are influenced by misconceptions and cover ups. At times, these can be intentional, but may also be unintentional. People can only report on what happens to the best of their knowledge. Of course, there have been many times in human history where the facts have been skewed to match or serve the agenda of a particular group of people who want to influence the masses. However, I'd like to make a distinction between 'fact' and 'truth.' A fact can be objectively measured, such as the example of who wrote the painting. A truth is often unable to be objectively measured.

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Post by N_R » 06 Jun 2018, 02:17

I find that, as a history buff, I always want to google elements of a novel to see how much truth there are in the story. It also helps with my own knowledge.

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Post by briellejee » 06 Jun 2018, 03:13

I think I would. I am really fond of these controversies lying around. It's like an adventure with Google rather than a map though. But still, it really made me wonder what else is hidden behind the glamour and prestige of these well-known, historically relevant and life-changing artists and their works?

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Post by JR Mercier » 06 Jun 2018, 09:54

Miriam Molina wrote:
04 Jun 2018, 20:44
I actually plan to Google the historical details. But I know that recorded history may not be accurate. The powers-that-be can and do dictate history.
Totally agree. History is written by the victors and more often then we know history is written to favour a certain figure/narrative.

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Post by thaservices1 » 06 Jun 2018, 18:58

This historical aspect did set an interest in the Florence nobility. I will probably go googling to know more, how they became, what the other great houses were, did they crumble, fade away, or are they still around.
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Post by bookowlie » 06 Jun 2018, 19:54

While reading this book, I became interested in finding out more about the Medicis and if Leonardo da Vinci actually had a friendship with anyone from this family. Also, the plotline about Gerhard stealing the painting from an Italian gallery made me wonder how many priceless works of art had been stolen from museums during WWII.
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Post by Bettercallyourbookie » 06 Jun 2018, 20:57

alisonedgee wrote:
05 Jun 2018, 21:21
I would. Personally, whatever the content is, be it film/books/tv/ w/e, if you're going to use real things be accurate. It really bothers be knowing that there are pointless inaccuracies in things. If you're going to have characters visit a place, a real, well know landmark, fgs do the research to make it realistic. If you're not willing to put in the effort then just say 'a street' or 'a gallery' you know.

its a little pet peeve i guess.
Is it really a pointless change, though? Sometimes the changes are made for theatrical or dramatic purposes. Whether or not you think that's valid is up to you, but I think making the story palatable for readers, sometimes at the expense of historical accuracy, is worth it.

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Post by Bettercallyourbookie » 06 Jun 2018, 21:00

briellejee wrote:
06 Jun 2018, 03:13
I think I would. I am really fond of these controversies lying around. It's like an adventure with Google rather than a map though. But still, it really made me wonder what else is hidden behind the glamour and prestige of these well-known, historically relevant and life-changing artists and their works?
I so agree! I wonder what historical events were purposefully changed to save face for particularly powerful people. What events actually transpired? And what effect did that have on events after the fact? How much of what we know as "history" is actually true?

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Post by briellejee » 07 Jun 2018, 04:13

Bettercallyourbookie wrote:
06 Jun 2018, 21:00
briellejee wrote:
06 Jun 2018, 03:13
I think I would. I am really fond of these controversies lying around. It's like an adventure with Google rather than a map though. But still, it really made me wonder what else is hidden behind the glamour and prestige of these well-known, historically relevant and life-changing artists and their works?
I so agree! I wonder what historical events were purposefully changed to save face for particularly powerful people. What events actually transpired? And what effect did that have on events after the fact? How much of what we know as "history" is actually true?
But how sad it would be if we uncover the secrets and realize that they are not as life-changing as they were? The truth really does come with a price. I dont know if you have watched Coco, but their legendary musician was fraud and it was heartbreaking to the ones that looked up to him.

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Post by Sushan » 07 Jun 2018, 05:41

History is past stories that are told to us by someone. So, whether they have been changed at some point is something that we don't know for sure. That is why we see various sort of interpretations regarding historical events throughout literature
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Post by alisonedgee » 07 Jun 2018, 11:22

Bettercallyourbookie wrote:
06 Jun 2018, 20:57
alisonedgee wrote:
05 Jun 2018, 21:21
I would. Personally, whatever the content is, be it film/books/tv/ w/e, if you're going to use real things be accurate. It really bothers be knowing that there are pointless inaccuracies in things. If you're going to have characters visit a place, a real, well know landmark, fgs do the research to make it realistic. If you're not willing to put in the effort then just say 'a street' or 'a gallery' you know.

its a little pet peeve i guess.
Is it really a pointless change, though? Sometimes the changes are made for theatrical or dramatic purposes. Whether or not you think that's valid is up to you, but I think making the story palatable for readers, sometimes at the expense of historical accuracy, is worth it.
see, i get where you're coming from, but i just don't think it's worth annoying the pedantic among us. like i said, if a writer isnt going to be completely accurate with a location, then don't be specific, you know?
like don't set a scene in a famous gallery and tell the reader the name, when you could just say 'a gallery in x location'

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