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Lincoln in the Bardo
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Lincoln in the Bardo > Question #4: Historical Fiction

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Historical fiction fans, how did you respond to Saunders exploration of the genre? In what ways does Saunders challenge and expand the genre of historical fiction? Why do you think Lincoln and his legacy remain such popular subjects in literature today?


Kate (arwen_kenobi) | 100 comments Mod
Historical fiction isn't usually my genre but from what I have read you tend to have an original character going through the events and experiencing them with some exceptions. Choosing Lincoln as a main character, and his son who died so young, and inter cutting it with so many primary sources is quite different. The whole structure of the book along is a challenge to fiction in general let alone historical specifically.

Lincoln's appeal I'm assuming is because jointly because he was assassinated (so we never got to see him finish out his presidential term or see what else he could do) and because of the period in which he was the president.


message 3: by Ashley (last edited Jun 18, 2018 01:29PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ashley | 116 comments Mod
I read so little historical fiction, I had to review my Read Books Shelf, so it's clearly not my favourite genre, or one I pretend to know a lot about. However I found this particular offering to be very interesting, and can see quite clearly how it differs from other historical fiction. Honestly, how it differs from most fiction....

I have to agree with Kate that Lincoln is probably considered such a fascinating figure because of the Civil War, and his assassination. Again, I must admit, I do not know much at all about either the Civil War or Abraham Lincoln, but I found this book a very unique way of gathering knowledge and historical context.

Personally, I need to be gripped by something historical in order to want to read about it - I need to have suddenly discovered a weird and wonderful fact that makes me want to know everything about a subject. I think that is probably when I would be more likely to read historical fiction.


message 4: by Susan (new) - added it

Susan (susanopl) | 472 comments Mod
Abraham Lincoln is revered by many, in spite of the nasty comments (related to the Civil War) that are repeated in the book. I'm not sure how much is written about the loss of his son, so perhaps Saunders wanted to explore this further.

I find Saunders' use of excerpts from many sources to create a narrative astounding. I don't know if this has been done before, but I still can't get over how the text flowed and created a story. I can't imagine how many hours it took to achieve this goal. This was by far my favorite part of this book.


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