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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NRoach
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Re: The Relativism of Historical Truth

Post by NRoach » 07 Jun 2018, 12:36

All history is, really, is a series of anecdotes told or written down and passed on to us. That means that basically every single source is unreliable in some way.

That's why it's so important to cross reference pretty much everything when studying the past.

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Post by Libs_Books » 07 Jun 2018, 13:41

I expect historical novelists to try not to go against the known facts. I also prefer it if, as well as anyone can, they try to get their characters to think and behave in ways that are reasonably consistent with what we know of how people at that time thought and behaved. There has to be room for interpretation, of course, and also for imagination and invention, but the very best novelists, in my view, don't push the boundaries of credibility.

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Post by SereneCharles » 08 Jun 2018, 17:09

The book might be fiction, but the historical details and places real. Sometimes I Google the history and places mentioned in the book when they become too recurrent. Sometimes I find out they are true.
Writing is so much fun. So is reading. :techie-studyingbrown:

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Post by Ana-Maria-Diana » 09 Jun 2018, 13:52

Of course I will google every name and place, historical or artistic fact. I think, searching for information you do not know for sure it is a beautiful process that enhances the capacity of understanding the book at its whole.

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Post by dtb » 09 Jun 2018, 15:35

N_R wrote:
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.
I do too. I love historical fiction, but always want to know if I am reading an old-timey story vs. actual historical details that are helping a work of fiction to be more interesting.

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Post by Emilyflint » 10 Jun 2018, 12:40

Unfortunetly, a lot of history has to be taken with a grain of salt. It is all up to the person who is actually writing the history down. Also, whether is was sanctioned by the king, queen, or other ruling party. You better believe that they would have or had soneone go over it and smooth over details that they didnt like.

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Post by Bookmermaid » 11 Jun 2018, 03:39

That is precisely what I have been doing cross-referencing the available historical literature with Ami's fictional version of the characters and events.

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Post by AWANDO OGUTU » 11 Jun 2018, 22:44

History is not always true. Historians at times paint different pictures surrounding a similar event. Moreover, some historical characters are too overrated.

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Post by kjarch1228 » 11 Jun 2018, 23:36

I think there are many things that we regard as historical fact that may be inaccurate. Don't get me wrong, I no conspiracy theorist but I do believe that much has been lost or changed over time. When you really think about it, history is just something someone, or multiple someones, experienced once and recorded for future generations. Being the imperfect beings that we are those accounts are most definitely subject to inaccuracies whether intentional or not.

I'm interested to know how much of this book is based on historical fact. Of course, I know of the Medicis and da Vinci but I don't know how much of the storyline was made up. I'm planning on doing a little research to find out.

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Post by cristinaro » 12 Jun 2018, 09:21

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.
Because of those powers, I think it is so important to recuperate the less known or the completely unknown face of history. I've always enjoyed reading the "untold stories".
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Post by cristinaro » 12 Jun 2018, 09:28

Kendra M Parker wrote:
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.
As long as the historian himself preserves his objectivity, I think we can have a version of history as close to facts and the truth as possible. What I am afraid of is that moment when truth is rewritten to fit a certain political or ideological purpose and all members of society become silent witnesses.
"The madness of writing is the antidote to true madness." (Hanif Kureishi)

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Post by cristinaro » 12 Jun 2018, 09:39

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.
Good point. I also think research is important if the writer wants to give the text a note of authenticity.
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Post by Libs_Books » 12 Jun 2018, 12:49

I tend to Google historical details because I like to know - sometimes you can pick up interesting holiday ideas.

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Post by cristinaro » 13 Jun 2018, 00:40

ChrisChatfield wrote:
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.
I'd like to believe that truth could be objectively measured by means of facts, in this case, historical facts. Otherwise, politics and ideology can easily rewrite a narrative of truth suiting their purposes and claiming that truth is, in fact, relative and dependent on a certain perspective.
"The madness of writing is the antidote to true madness." (Hanif Kureishi)

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Post by cristinaro » 13 Jun 2018, 00:42

N_R wrote:
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.
I also believe I could learn a thing or two while checking the authenticity of the facts in a novel, especially the realistic or historical ones.
"The madness of writing is the antidote to true madness." (Hanif Kureishi)

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