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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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?!
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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.
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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.
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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.

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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.

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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.
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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.

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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.
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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.

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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?

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Post by fanix1718 » 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.

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Post by ValBookReviews » Today, 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:

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