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
Post Reply
User avatar
bookowlie
Special Discussion Leader
Posts: 7739
Joined: 25 Oct 2014, 09:52
2017 Reading Goal: 52
2017 Reading Goal Completion: 50
Favorite Book: The Lost Continent
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 322
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-bookowlie.html
Latest Review: Norman by Michelle Olson

Re: The Relativism of Historical Truth

Post by bookowlie » 28 Jun 2018, 12:16

greenstripedgiraffe wrote:
27 Jun 2018, 12:26
everyone that writes history has some sort of bias, which can be seen through which details are kept, which are left out, which are emphasized, etc. However, when it comes to fiction, whether in print or on the screen, my personal preference is for it to be as accurate as possible in overall setting, characters, relationships, actions, etc. I want it to be plausible :)
I feel the same way. In fact, my personal peeve is when a book or TV show uses a setting in an actual state, but in a fictional town. For example, the TV show The Middle is set in Indiana in the fictional town of Orson. I once read that the town of Orson was based on the real town of Jasper, Indiana. Why not just set the show in Jasper?!
"I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship" - Louisa May Alcott

User avatar
greenstripedgiraffe
Posts: 795
Joined: 22 Oct 2015, 10:47
Currently Reading: Heart of anger
Bookshelf Size: 252
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-greenstripedgiraffe.html
Latest Review: The Munich Girl by Phyllis Edgerly Ring

Post by greenstripedgiraffe » 28 Jun 2018, 13:12

cristinaro wrote:
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.
A good historical novel is soundly based in facts, soundly researched, etc., but the novel part has the added advantage of taking those facts and bringing them to life - everyone in history is same as us, just in a different time period, a different role... Humans are still the same though. Emotions, driving forces, power plays, manipulators, leaders, followers, mistakes, accidental good decisions... It's all the same today, and a good historical fiction is a lovely wedding between the facts and the story behind the facts. This particular book was history-ish. History lite - a little history, but mostly romance and other fiction.
"no one down here" --- Up the Down Staircase

User avatar
Yolimari
Posts: 623
Joined: 06 Mar 2017, 02:23
2018 Reading Goal: 50
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 60
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 130
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-yolimari.html
Latest Review: Milk From Sand by Leonila V. Montgomery

Post by Yolimari » 28 Jun 2018, 15:58

cristinaro wrote:
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?
I always corroborate the historical facts, names, dates, and places an author depicts in a book. I mainly do it because I want to know if the author was historically accurate. I also do it to distinguish between fact and fiction, like you said. It is fun to see how an author’s imagination runs wild based on history or a blank space within history.
"What matters in life is not what happens to you but what you remember and how you remember it."

-Gabriel García Márquez

User avatar
ireadalot13
Posts: 3
Joined: 10 Mar 2018, 13:24
2018 Reading Goal: 12
2017 Reading Goal: 0
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 0
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 0

Post by ireadalot13 » 28 Jun 2018, 20:16

It will take time to change history. I question everything now. I feel like we were all made fools of in school. It is hard to believe in anything or anyone anymore.

User avatar
kfwilson6
Previous Member of the Month
Posts: 1964
Joined: 14 Feb 2018, 15:30
2018 Reading Goal: 100
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 95
Currently Reading: The dandelion bouquet
Bookshelf Size: 291
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-kfwilson6.html
Latest Review: The Invisible Realm by Evelyn Louise Dunbar-Webb
Reading Device: B00JG8GOWU

Post by kfwilson6 » 28 Jun 2018, 20:22

Yolimari makes a good point. I wouldn't take any "history" as fact unless I verified it beyond reading it in a fiction novel. Most people have heard of da Vinci so they may take the rest of the information gleaned from the flashbacks as fact as well. Parts of the history turned out to be true, but not all of it. Readers must be wary of this mix and not take fictional history at face value.

User avatar
bookowlie
Special Discussion Leader
Posts: 7739
Joined: 25 Oct 2014, 09:52
2017 Reading Goal: 52
2017 Reading Goal Completion: 50
Favorite Book: The Lost Continent
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 322
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-bookowlie.html
Latest Review: Norman by Michelle Olson

Post by bookowlie » 29 Jun 2018, 12:26

Good point. Once I found that Fioretta and Giuiliano were real people and their son grew up to become Pope Clement, I just assumed the other aspects were true such as their close friendship with da Vinci and the wedding portrait. However, I couldn't find any info online about those things, although I found some info that Lorenzo Medici was friends with da Vinci. I would have rather all of it was true...or none of it. Mixing the two bothered me a little.
"I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship" - Louisa May Alcott

User avatar
ktrae910
Posts: 180
Joined: 27 Feb 2017, 06:53
2018 Reading Goal: 250
2017 Reading Goal: 250
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 8
2017 Reading Goal Completion: 20
Currently Reading: Bad to the Bone
Bookshelf Size: 7573
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-ktrae910.html
Latest Review: "Who Told You That You Were Naked?" by William E. Combs

Post by ktrae910 » 30 Jun 2018, 11:36

History is written by the victors. Given that supposition, I always question what I read. Usually, when reading historical fiction, I become interested in the story and the subject matter and that leads to doing in-depth research about it.
Latest Review: "Who Told You That You Were Naked?" by William E. Combs

User avatar
bookowlie
Special Discussion Leader
Posts: 7739
Joined: 25 Oct 2014, 09:52
2017 Reading Goal: 52
2017 Reading Goal Completion: 50
Favorite Book: The Lost Continent
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 322
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-bookowlie.html
Latest Review: Norman by Michelle Olson

Post by bookowlie » 30 Jun 2018, 14:12

ktrae910 wrote:
30 Jun 2018, 11:36
History is written by the victors. Given that supposition, I always question what I read. Usually, when reading historical fiction, I become interested in the story and the subject matter and that leads to doing in-depth research about it.
Historical fiction is nice because it's both entertaining and educational. However, I don't always wind up researching the subject matter afterward. In this case, I did once the Medici family was mentioned, as well as a missing da Vinci painting. Historical fiction usually doesn't include people who actually existed in real life. Instead, it would nclude the culture and customs of the time period, such as women's roles at the turn of the century or the immigrant experience of a specific ethnic group in the form of a fictional family.
"I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship" - Louisa May Alcott

Fixnwrtr
Posts: 11
Joined: 03 Jun 2018, 19:27
Currently Reading: Murder by Misrule
Bookshelf Size: 13

Post by Fixnwrtr » 01 Jul 2018, 11:21

Much of historical truth is fantasy/fiction. How else do we learn about what has happened without having viewed it thru the window of possibility. History depends on the prevailing views of the times in which it is written, hence much of history is fiction. We must begin somewhere. Why not begin with fantasy? Eventually we update and refine until we reach some semblance of truth...we hope.

User avatar
Cara Van Heerden
Posts: 61
Joined: 19 Jun 2018, 02:14
2018 Reading Goal: 25
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 80
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 38
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-cara-van-heerden.html
Latest Review: The Prize by Geoffrey M Cooper
Reading Device: B0147LDSG0

Post by Cara Van Heerden » 09 Jul 2018, 15:15

The saying "history is written by the victors" gives me chills every time. I also can't shake the feeling that maybe history doesn't give us the whole story. It makes for some mind-bending theories out there when you think of all the possibilities. The news agency alone can easily be manipulated with propaganda and we're likely to never know. Is politicians like Hitler could make whole nations believe lies, then what other facts in history have been distorted for political or personal benefit?

Scary
“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.” - C.S. Lewis

User avatar
Jennifer Fernandez
Posts: 226
Joined: 09 Jun 2018, 21:30
2018 Reading Goal: 10
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 210
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 69
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-jennifer-fernandez.html
Latest Review: The Enemy In Me by Jacob Newell Campbell

Post by Jennifer Fernandez » 09 Jul 2018, 21:19

I think historical accuracy is really hard to achieve since the point of view of history changes so much. But, I like authors that take the effort to research before publishing.

User avatar
ValBookReviews
Posts: 684
Joined: 17 Mar 2018, 23:24
2018 Reading Goal: 25
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 124
Currently Reading: McDowell
Bookshelf Size: 379
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-valbookreviews.html
Latest Review: Superhighway 2 by Alex Fayman

Post by ValBookReviews » 17 Jul 2018, 07:18

Yep, that statement is very thought-provoking. It certainly got me thinking about how's "there is nothing new under the sun". And yes, I would certainly fact-check, google some historical names and places in the novel to distinguish between fact and fiction. Why not?
"And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life". (Revelation 20:12 (NKJV) :reading-7:

User avatar
history100
Posts: 21
Joined: 03 Jul 2018, 09:30
2018 Reading Goal: 24
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 33
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 17
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-history100.html
Latest Review: Final Notice by Van Fleisher

Post by history100 » 18 Jul 2018, 10:56

Not all history is the same. The history of Standard Oil, if written by Standard Oil employees, will certainly spin the facts in their favor. There is a lot of money to be made by controlling the history of a company, leaving out some very messy details, etc. And politicians who all want to claim they are the in the party of Lincoln and want you to think that brings them legitimacy have no idea what the Republican Party was really like in 1860. So yes, history gets tossed around a lot but there are also legitimate, well-researched and well-documented history books out there. We just have to put in the effort to search them out. Historical fiction is different but once we start looking at legitimate, non-fiction history we have to do our due diligence, look for legitimate authors and consult the footnotes. No one ever said the truth would be easy.

User avatar
Izesicle
Posts: 748
Joined: 25 Jun 2017, 00:16
2018 Reading Goal: 48
2017 Reading Goal: 20
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 20
2017 Reading Goal Completion: 45
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 140
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-izesicle.html
Latest Review: With Malice Aforethought by Thonie Hevron
Reading Device: B00JG8GOWU

Post by Izesicle » 18 Jul 2018, 16:22

Definitely, I will research. The main impact for me in the Da Vinci Code novels was to question what I knew about historical facts and the religion I grew up with.

User avatar
smessing10
Posts: 4
Joined: 01 Jul 2018, 22:42
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 11
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-smessing10.html
Latest Review: The Buried Secrets of Peonies by Mernegar Dorgoly

Post by smessing10 » 18 Jul 2018, 17:59

I don't believe that historians attempt to deceive or cover-up parts of history, but I do believe that it is important to view historical events from different perspectives. Wars, for instance, are fought by at least two sides. It is important in those cases to examine both sides in the conflict to confirm that something took place as it was said to.

Post Reply

Return to “Discuss "The Girl Who Knew da Vinci" by Belle Ami”