Rediscovering Our Selves Through Historical Fiction

Historical novels are carving out a special literary niche as readers begin to more fully grasp their unique value in understanding whom we are and where we came from. All novels should present the possibility for the reader to learn and grow in some dimension, but by tapping the fertile landscape of our past this expanding genre offers endless layers of opportunities for learning about ourselves.

I often ask a simple question of readers who express an interest in exploring historical fiction: where was your DNA two hundred fifty years ago? We are all made up of particles of history. That isn’t just a metaphor, it is a scientific fact. The genes that define you were walking around in the 18th century, when my Bone Rattler novels are set, and long before then. Considering where they were—and they may have been on different continents at the same time—becomes a wonderful key for opening the treasure chest of your past, and historical fiction can be a potent guide to understanding what you find there.

We are all players in the great orchestra of humanity, and while the instruments get passed on to new members from time to time, the music doesn’t change nearly as much as we might think. Those who ignore that reality, who decline to turn and face earlier links in our human chain, diminish their lives and their ability to fully grasp who they are and the society they live in. In the words of novelist Michael Crichton, “if you don’t know history, you’re just a leaf that doesn’t know it is part of a tree.”

I was fortunate enough to discover that I was part of such a tree at an early age, and I have derived nourishment from those roots ever since. It helped that my ancestors choose paths which easily aroused a youth’s curiosity—Highland Scots who migrated to Virginia highlands and other Scots who fled an English army to take up farming in Maryland, as well as multiple ancestors who fought in the American Revolution and Welsh forebears who survived the bloody attacks on Jamestown in the 1620’s. But whether your DNA resided in a German cobbler, a Scythian warrioress, a Venetian weaver, or an African chieftain, it survived an amazing journey. Understanding that journey, and realizing you are engaged in its current leg, enriches our appreciation of our families, and provides important insights into whom we are, not just physically but.also intellectually and spiritually.

Great novels are about characters, and history is derived from characters. The first important step in embracing historical fiction is the recognition that we are all derived from historical characters. Historical novels breathe life into figures who otherwise have become little more than flat paper cut outs in our textbooks. The skilled novelist enlivens these players from the past by using historically accurate venues, vernacular, fashion, and technology. Such aspects bring important color to characters but as valuable as these external attributes may be, the vital elements in reviving people from the other side of time are the internal ones, the hearts and souls of a novel’s cast. By thrusting us into those hearts and souls, such novels translate distant humans into terms we can relate to, allowing those humans to become part of us.

I didn’t get hooked on Wolf Hall because I yearned to know about Tudor court politics, I was hooked because I could identify with the very human, very conflicted character of Thomas Cromwell. Umberto Eco’s Name of the Rose and Ellis Peters’ Brother Cadfael novels were successful not because of the late Middle Age history lessons implicit in their pages but because of their poignant, internally resonating portraits of two complex figures who had traded in Crusader armor for monks’ robes. Such historical mysteries can be especially effective at this translation process, for they inexorably draw the reader into conundrums that can’t be solved without getting inside the heads of these long ago characters. The reward, and the challenge, of getting through my own Bone Rattler series is that none of its mysteries can be resolved unless the reader has assimilated elements of 18th century Highland and Native American culture.

Historical fiction ultimately lets us walk beside these participants in our past, allowing us to discover that in reasoning, aspiration, curiosity and passion they differ very little from ourselves. They may speak and dress differently but such differences are only minor variations of hue on the great human palette. Glimpsing how human our forebears were doesn’t simply add to a novel’s entertainment value, it helps us grasp the depth of our own humanity. I write two series set in very different times and places but at their core each is about that shared humanity, about values and elements of natural justice that transcend specific times and cultures and therefore become links across the centuries.

Discovering such bonds with the past has immeasurably enriched my life. Knowing that we share traits and experiences with others who came before us adds new texture to our lives and new strength to our spirit. After better understanding the experiences of both my ancestors and my characters I look at certain places and institutions in profoundly different ways. Our forebears are, inevitably, companions in our life’s journey, who shadow us as we confront the trials and celebrate the joys of our lives, just as we will become silent companions in our descendants’ lives.

Too often in today’s instantly connected culture our feelings, and any opportunity for contemplative decision making, are obscured by the constant noise of social media. A well-crafted historical novel isn’t just an oasis where such distracting influences are banished, it can become a refreshing trek of self discovery. Connecting with those whose blood flows in our veins isn’t simply a pleasant distraction, it is empowering. This is our time to rise up out of the great sea of humanity, but knowing its depths and currents allows us to be more effective navigators in our own journey. Discovering that the past isn’t really past, it just has new faces, is the great reward of historical novels. By investing time in a well-crafted historical novel you might learn to find yourself, from before.

638 thoughts on “Rediscovering Our Selves Through Historical Fiction”

  1. Pingback:
  2. Pingback:
  3. Pingback: hs;br
  4. Pingback: tureckie_serialy
  5. Pingback:
  6. Pingback: +1+
  7. Pingback: watch
  8. Pingback: ++++++
  9. Pingback: HD-720
  10. Pingback: 2020
  11. Pingback: Video
  12. Pingback:
  13. Pingback: Cialis 10mg usa
  14. Pingback: Cialis 10 mg uk
  15. Pingback: tadalafil 10 mg uk
  16. Pingback: lexapro 5mg canada
  17. Pingback: arava 10mg tablets
  18. Pingback: atarax 25 mg nz
  19. Pingback: avapro 150mg cost
  20. Pingback: buy Biaxin 250mg
  21. Pingback: casodex 50 mg cost
  22. Pingback: ceftin cheap
  23. Pingback: celebrex coupon
  24. Pingback: order cephalexin
  25. Pingback: cipro for sale
  26. Pingback: claritin coupon
  27. Pingback: casino slot games
  28. Pingback: casino online
  29. Pingback: online loans
  30. Pingback: cbd oil for cancer
  31. Pingback: cbd oil for pain
  32. Pingback: cbd oil for pets
  33. Pingback: buy essays papers
  34. Pingback: buy essay online
  35. Pingback: essay writing tip
  36. Pingback: buy cleocin
  37. Pingback: cheap combivent
  38. Pingback: cialis
  39. Pingback: compazine 5 mg otc
  40. Pingback: crestor 10mg cost
  41. Pingback: cheapest cymbalta
  42. Pingback: dapsone caps price
  43. Pingback: ddavp 10 mcg price
  44. Pingback: diamox coupon
  45. Pingback: diltiazem cost
  46. Pingback: etodolac uk
  47. Pingback: sildenafil 50mg
  48. Pingback: geodon purchase
  49. Pingback: imdur 20mg tablet
  50. Pingback: cialis daily
  51. Pingback: cialis 20mg price
  52. Pingback: liquid cialis
  53. Pingback: tadalafil for sale
  54. Pingback: my site
  55. Pingback: imuran 25mg cheap
  56. Pingback: abilify and weed
  57. Pingback: indocin 25mg price
  58. Pingback: levaquin australia
  59. Pingback: lopid generic
  60. Pingback: atorvastatin 15mg
  61. Pingback: micardis canada
  62. Pingback: Brand Viagra
  63. Pingback: order periactin
  64. Pingback: bupropion is
  65. Pingback: viagra
  66. Pingback: buspirone sex
  67. Pingback: procardia tablet
  68. Pingback: proscar 5 mg price
  69. Pingback: order reglan 10mg
  70. Pingback: too much viagra
  71. Pingback: homemade viagra
  72. Pingback: risperdal purchase
  73. Pingback: seroquel usa
  74. Pingback: spiriva online
  75. Pingback: toprol 100mg cost
  76. Pingback: cheap tricor
  77. Pingback: valtrex price
  78. Pingback: verapamil purchase
  79. Pingback: wellbutrin online
  80. Pingback: zanaflex otc
  81. Pingback: try these out
  82. Pingback: zocor 20 mg uk
  83. Pingback: zyloprim nz
  84. Pingback: zyprexa 2,5mg nz
  85. Pingback: furosemide otc
  86. Pingback: pioglitazone usa
  87. Pingback: cefuroxime tablet
  88. Pingback: cialis online
  89. Pingback: clozapine tablets
  90. Pingback: warfarin uk
  91. Pingback: phenytoin cheap
  92. Pingback: keflex dosing
  93. Pingback: venlafaxine cost
  94. Pingback: grmiwkze
  95. Pingback: cialis dosage 20mg
  96. Pingback: viagra
  97. Pingback: help essay writing
  98. Pingback: viagra handjob
  99. Pingback: lamotrigine price
  100. Pingback: terbinafine nz
  101. Pingback: lasix cost
  102. Pingback: viagra meme
  103. Pingback: loviagraosn viagra
  104. Pingback: diy viagra recipes
  105. Pingback: canadian cialis
  106. Pingback: how to use cialis
  107. Pingback: viagra ebay
  108. Pingback: clomid pcos
  109. Pingback: tadalafil dosage
  110. Pingback: what is cialis
  111. Pingback: using viagra
  112. Pingback: viagra naturale
  113. Pingback: cialis prices
  114. Pingback: define diflucan
  115. Pingback: vardenafil 20 mg
  116. Pingback: viagra on line
  117. Pingback: discount synthroid
  118. Pingback: buy cheap essays
  119. Pingback: custom essay org
  120. Pingback: merck propecia
  121. Pingback: buy paper online
  122. Pingback: cialis original
  123. Pingback: cialis forwo men
  124. Pingback: viagra 20 mg cost
  125. Pingback: paxil ocd
  126. Pingback: plaquenil eyes
  127. Pingback: cialis usa
  128. Pingback: que es tadalafil
  129. Pingback: ciprofloxacin 500
  130. Pingback: 20 mg cost
  131. Pingback: tadalafil 40 mg uk
  132. Pingback: buy cheap canada
  133. Pingback: can i buy in uk
  134. Pingback: buy cheap canada
  135. Pingback: can i buy in uk
  136. Pingback: Adult dating site
  137. Pingback: mail order viagra
  138. Pingback: sildenafil 100 mg
  139. Pingback: sildenafil 20
  140. Pingback: viagra gold 800mg
  141. Pingback: cialis pills price
  142. Pingback: sildenafil recall
  143. Pingback: discount tadalafil
  144. Pingback: match dating site
  145. Pingback: buy cialis pills
  146. Pingback: otc viagra
  147. Pingback: what is gabapentin
  148. Pingback: levitra wiki
  149. Pingback: sildenafil 25 mg
  150. Pingback: amlodipine use
  151. Pingback: meloxicam 15mg
  152. Pingback: metoprolol er
  153. Pingback: losartan doses
  154. Pingback: cialis pill
  155. Pingback: levitra drug
  156. Pingback: duloxetine hcl
  157. Pingback: what is cymbalta
  158. Pingback: metformin and pcos
  159. Pingback: bupropion 300mg xl
  160. Pingback: buspar drug class
  161. Pingback: zanaflex 4mg
  162. Pingback: diclofenac sodium
  163. Pingback:
  164. Pingback: cialis at walmart
  165. Pingback: viagra australia
  166. Pingback: levitra patent
  167. Pingback: cefdinir 300mg
  168. Pingback: cialis forum
  169. Pingback: cialis 100
  170. Pingback: viagra replacement
  171. Pingback: cialis reviews
  172. Pingback: cialis timeline
  173. Pingback: cialis ebay
  174. Pingback: men viagra
  175. Pingback: canada viagra cost
  176. Pingback: viagra drug
  177. Pingback: tadalafil 25mg
  178. Pingback: staxyn vs levitra
  179. Pingback: metformin diarrhea
  180. Pingback: orlistat
  181. Pingback: bimatoprost powder
  182. Pingback: motilium 10mg
  183. Pingback: revia control
  184. Pingback: cialis forms
  185. Pingback: cialis 20mg cost
  186. Pingback: tadalafil canada
  187. Pingback: viagra like pills
  188. Pingback: what is viagra
  189. Pingback:
  190. Pingback: how to make viagra
  191. Pingback: what is ampicillin
  192. Pingback: canada drugs com
  193. Pingback: viagra boys band
  194. Pingback: priligy india
  195. Pingback: stromectol treats
  196. Pingback: prozac nausea
  197. Pingback: natural viagra
  198. Pingback: viagrahati
  199. Pingback:
  200. Pingback: cialis germany
  201. Pingback: cialis 10
  202. Pingback: viagra online
  203. Pingback: 1
  204. Pingback: cialis free trial
  205. Pingback: sildenafil 20mg

Comments are closed.