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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Melchi Asuma
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Re: The Relativism of Historical Truth

Post by Melchi Asuma » 13 Jun 2018, 00:46

History is always inaccurate. Or rather, it lacks the real full story. This is because it is usually written from one person's point of view and as such, lacks the two-sidedness of the truth. All facts from the novel should be googled.
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Post by cristinaro » 13 Jun 2018, 00:55

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've often wondered why I am also curious to know more about the life of a certain artist. I guess it is because his life is a reflection of his genius and is always somehow reflected in his work. I only wish brilliant artists were praised during their life rather than after their death.
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Post by cristinaro » 13 Jun 2018, 01:02

thaservices1 wrote:
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.
Well, I've already googled the information on Giuliano and de Medici family. It looks like the story of his clandestine relationship with Fioretta Gorini and his death happened in reality. Under the circumstances, I wish the author had added more fictional elements to their story to embellish it and make it more exciting.
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Post by cristinaro » 13 Jun 2018, 01:13

bookowlie wrote:
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.
It looks like Lorenzo de Medici was one of Leonardo's patrons indeed and Giuliano and Fioretta's story is recorded by art historians too. As for the stolen or destroyed works of art during WWII, I remember reading that Hitler and Goring were in some sort of competition in art looting and they later displayed everything they were stealing in some private collections.
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Post by cristinaro » 13 Jun 2018, 01:20

briellejee wrote:
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.
I think the truth is important no matter the price. What makes me very sad is that I have to helplessly witness the change of historical truth only for the benefit of a small group of people. Think of all the victims of WWII. There were people who were still looking for the officer that tortured them in the concentration camps many years after everything finished. They needed the truth to be revealed. They couldn't move on while thinking their tormentor continued to live a peaceful life or be a respected member of the community somewhere in the world.
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Post by cristinaro » 13 Jun 2018, 01:23

Sushan wrote:
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
History should be more than stories. For me, history should be based on facts. This is the reason why historians should struggle to preserve their objectivity.
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Post by cristinaro » 13 Jun 2018, 01:28

alisonedgee wrote:
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'
I have to agree with you here. If the writer mentions a certain gallery, then I think it is better if he is accurate in his description. I mean, it's one thing to write a fantasy or a sci-fi novel where you imagine everything and quite another to rely on realistic descriptions. Well, the discussion can go even further in the sense that he can also move away from reality with a satirical or parodical intention. It totally depends on what the writer wants from that description. In Belle Ami's case, I think a realistic description of the settings would suit her purposes.
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Post by cristinaro » 13 Jun 2018, 01:33

NRoach wrote:
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.
I am scared of the thought of history as an anecdote, but I guess you're technically right. I am thinking of a crime and 5 witnesses of the same scene. No 2 witnesses will tell you the same thing about what happened. However, there is still historical evidence that could be used to support historical authenticity. Besides, like you said, cross referencing is extremely important.
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Post by cristinaro » 13 Jun 2018, 01:39

Libs_Books wrote:
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.
I agree with you when it comes to writers of historical novels, but, as we can see, nowadays the boundaries between one genre and another are no longer so strict. For example, Belle Ami is not a historical novelist. I would call her a romance writer, yet in this novel she uses art history and she obviously did some research on the topic.
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Post by cristinaro » 13 Jun 2018, 01:40

Ada4nathan wrote:
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.
In the case of this novel, the details concerning Giuliano and Fioretta's story seem to be genuine too.
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Post by cristinaro » 13 Jun 2018, 01:44

Emilyflint wrote:
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.
You're referring to more or less explicit censorship and unfortunately, this happens all the time. I'm afraid one can never be totally honest without any consequences.
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Post by Sarah Tariq » 13 Jun 2018, 01:47

I think the fictional part is overwhelming the novel. Even if we google about facts it we will find very limited information with its true perspective.
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Post by Rhianne » 13 Jun 2018, 03:10

I think it's easy to forget that history is written by people with opinions and biases. I'm definitely a googler but I'm also partial to alternative interpretations.

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Post by DancingLady » 13 Jun 2018, 07:22

It’s not really unusual for powerful people to cover up things they didn’t like about their family. Hundreds of years ago that would have been fairly easy to do since no one was snapping pictures or texting their friends what they just saw.

I don’t know that I would call it relativism, since that word has a specific meaning to me, but I think it’s wise to understand that there are likely inaccuracies in the historical record that may have been deliberate.

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Post by bookowlie » 13 Jun 2018, 09:01

Now that I know some of the historical touches in the story are factual, it makes me wish the author didn't turn the book into such a paranormal romance. Since the historical elements are so interesting, the book deserved to be less of a beach-style read.
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