to Historical Fiction:
"A thorny issue . . . is
|Soon Y. Choi. "Part
A. On Selection Criteria Used by Reference Books." From
(Almost) Complete Guide to Historical Fiction Reference Books:
[last accessed Feb. 2002].
A. On Selection Criteria
"A thorny issue in selecting historical novels is how to define historical fiction. Some authors apply a strict test of historical accuracy, not only in terms of dates and names but also in beliefs and customs that a book's characters take up. "Historical Fiction" by Duggan and Taylor is an example. Hartman and Sapp's "Historical Figures in Fiction" lists only those that have one or more real historical characters in the plot. On the other hand, Rosenberg and Herald's "Genreflecting" follows the tradition, to the extreme, of treating historical fiction as romance novels. Thus, you will find most of your favorite historical novels under Romance genre, to your surprise.
"One can take the standard of historical accuracy too far. And when one uses historical accuracy as the sole criterion, too many books are considered as historical fiction. McGarry and White's "World Historical Fiction Guide" lists over 6,000 titles. They included books that accurately described an identifiable historical period, persons or events, even when they were contemporary novels at the time of publication. Thus, you'll see Jane Austen and Turgenev in their list.
"Although Austen and Turgenev are two of my all-time favorites, we need
to apply our definition for historical fiction: i.e. the author needs be
describing a historical era that preceded the author's life. This refers to the
essential requirement for an author's conscious effort to re-create an era
gone-by. McGarry and White included some (then contemporary) novels because of
their "historical value." In terms of reading enjoyment, this should
not make any difference: we experience the same "historical re-living"
whether we read Robert Graves' "I, Claudius," or Turgenev's "Fathers
and Sons." But what makes "I, Claudius" a historical fiction, but
not "Fathers and Sons," is the difference in the creative process by
the author. (I am NOT saying one involves more/better/worse effort from the
author than the other. It's just what makes the historical fiction a distinct
class of literature.)"
5. Historical Fiction
7. World Historical Fiction Guide: An Annotated, Chronological, Geographical
and Topical List of Selected Historical Novels
By Betty Rosenberg and Diana Tixier Herald. Libraries Unlimited, Inc. First edition published in 1982, 3rd ed. in 1991.
Books are listed under six genres: western, thriller, Romance, science fiction, fantasy, and horror. Numerous subgenres by themes and types are given, as named by authors. Each of these subheadings is described briefly, and author and title are given that fall into the subheading. Some titles also have a description of subject, but not often. Historical novels are mainly under romance genre, but also under western and thriller (historical mysteries) sections. I find this book somewhat useful because of subgenres that are not available elsewhere. (Under romance, we see such subgenres as royals, saga, period romance, and time travel fantasy-romance. Other genres offer such gem(?) as mountain man, railroads, boy into man, mysterious rider, crime-rogue, military and naval adventure, etc.) But the list are not complete, sometimes only author names. And their subgenres are so arbitrary. More importantly, it's misleading by putting many historical novels under period romance, although most of these books do have a romantic concern worth a page or two. But then, which one doesn't?
Other Notable Features:
Useful topics on bibliography, history and criticism, journals, associations, etc., for each genre (which means that it has these topics for romance but nothing for historical fiction). Index for authors and titles.
Historical Figures in Fiction
Soon Y. Choi
"What is history but a fable agreed upon?" - Napoleon B.
Soon's Historical Fiction Site is " the most comprehensive of the WWW sites devoted to historical fiction. Includes a master list of historical fiction writers with a short biography and list of works as well as links. Also a pseudonyms list and current historical fiction best sellers at Amazon."
(last accessed March 2002)
ENGL 339-E Course Home | Course Plan | Introduction
You are here: Introduction
Soon Online Course Pack
URL of this webpage: http://www.cocc.edu/cagatucci/classes/eng339/Intro/Soon.htm
Last updated: 30 March 2003