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The list, other books, movies > HIstorical fiction - key historical events, or in general

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message 1: by NancyJ, Moderator (last edited Jul 24, 2018 07:13PM) (new)

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
Help me to identify historical fiction books on this list. I can think of two types. A) A novel that reveals something about historical events, wars, or significant social changes. B) A novel that shows us real life during another time/place in history.

I'll pick a somewhat arbitrary date of 1980 and say that a realistic novel written or set before that date would potentially qualify. If you're aware or more recent books that you think should be considered historical fiction, please say why. Sci-fi, fantasy, and other forms or speculative fiction are generally not realistic enough to be considered historical fiction, however there might be some interesting exceptions. (E.g. Outlander uses time travel as a device to get a character into 18th century Scotland, but the rest of the book is realistic historical fiction.) I guess this would be type C.

So please help me to make three lists.

A. Which books on the list cover key historical events? Wars, other historical events, or interesting political or other issues. Briefly identify year, setting, event.

B. What additional books on the list show a realistic portrayal of real life (culture, mores, society, politics, or family life) in a time prior to 1980? (Even if they don't cover a distinct event.)

C. Are there any books that were written and set in a earlier period of history but they didn't reveal much of anything about the time?


On list A:

1. Gone with the wind - Civil war US

2. War and Peace


List B:

1. Pride and Prejudice

2. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, early 1900's Brooklyn, NY. NY, NY, USA

3. A Prayer for Owen Meany, mid 19th century Exeter NewHamshire, USA, Some references to 1960's social issues and vietnam war.


List C: There is some speculative element, but it still informs us about a real time and place in history.

1. Outlander
possibly....
2. Frankenstein
3. Picture of Dorian Gray


What else?


message 2: by Claire (last edited Jul 25, 2018 05:26AM) (new)

Claire  | 6 comments Historical fiction is the genre of literature, film, etc., comprising narratives that take place in the past and are characterized chiefly by an imaginative reconstruction of historical events and personages.
lots of historical fiction on the list. Little Women is one of them. Outlander is definitively historical fiction.
Frankenstein is not, unless we see all classics as historical fiction.there needs to be a time difference between the time the book was written and the time it talks about.
If I find time, I’ll go through the list to see which ones, but dividing among a few people would be easier


message 3: by Jess (new)

Jess Penhallow | 28 comments I agree, I would distinguish historical fiction as fiction being written about a time in the past. Classics are not historical fiction as they were contemporary at the time of being written.

I'm also happy to help Claire sift through the list.


message 4: by Jess (new)

Jess Penhallow | 28 comments So it didn't take me too long to comb through the list. There's actually quite a lot of historical fiction on there:

Definitely Historical Fiction
Beloved - Published in 1987, set in the time of slavery
The Book Thief - Published in 2005, set in 1940s
The Clan of the Cave Bear - Published in 1980, set in prehistoric times
Gilead - Published in 2004, set from American Civil War onward
Gone with the Wind - Published in 1936, set in 1860s (although I used to think this was written at the time that it is portraying!)
The Help - Published in 2009, set in 1960s
The Joy Luck Club - Published in 1989, set in 1949
Lonesome Dove - Published in 1985, set in 1870s
Memoirs of a Geisha - Published in 2005, set in 1930s
Outlander - Published in 1991, set in 1940s/1740s
The Pillars of the Earth - Published in 1989, set in 12th century
War and Peace - Published in 1867, set in 1815

Set in a previous time to publication but not regarded as historical fiction
A Prayer for Owen Meany - Published in 1989, set at least partly from 1953 onwards (I haven't read this so I don't know how long is spent in each setting)
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn - Published in 1943, in 1900s
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer - Published in 1876, set in 1840s
The Alchemist - Published in 1988, set in an unspecified time but seems medieval
Americanah - Published in 2013, set in the 1990s
The Color Purple - Published in 1982, set in 1930s
The Count of Monte Cristo - Published in 1844, set in 1815
The Notebook - Published in 1996, set in 1940s onwards
To Kill a Mockingbird - Published in 1960, set in 1930s

These categories are partly my own opinion and partly based on Goodreads tags but all these would broadly fit the category of Historical Fiction


message 5: by NancyJ, Moderator (last edited Jul 25, 2018 08:14AM) (new)

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
Jess wrote: "So it didn't take me too long to comb through the list. There's actually quite a lot of historical fiction on there:
.."


Thanks Jess! I appreciate the dates of the settings.

I'll add Things Fall Apart

The Notebook has the same issue as Owen Meany. I don't know how much of the time if spent in the past versus the author's present day. I might leave them out, along with Americanah.

I would consider most of the second list historical fiction too (except The Alchemist which is considered fantasy). There are differing published definitions regarding how much time must have passed to call something historical fiction.

I was going to ignore the rule about the time difference between the setting and the writing, because those are the books that give us a more true to life details about modern life. Instead, I'll just call it something different in the polls.


message 6: by Claire (new)

Claire  | 6 comments In the second part all are regarded by GR as historical fiction except A Prayer for Owen Meany,Americanah and The Notebook.
I think a book that is regarded historical fiction needs some distance to current events and set in the past. A book like the notebook where there is a part about now and a part in the past wouldn’t be regarded historical fiction.
But great job! I will check and see if I see others. Problem is I have bad wifi on vacation now.


message 7: by NancyJ, Moderator (new)

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
Claire wrote: "Historical fiction is the genre of literature, film, etc., comprising narratives that take place in the past and are characterized chiefly by an imaginative reconstruction of historical events and ..."

Thanks Claire, Jess went through part of the list. Are you aware of any others? I'm also interested in books about historical events or interesting periods in history, regardless of the time gap between the writing and the setting. For the poll I'm trying to group books that might appeal to the same people. Thanks!


message 9: by Jess (last edited Jul 25, 2018 10:32AM) (new)

Jess Penhallow | 28 comments NancyJ wrote: "Jess wrote: "So it didn't take me too long to comb through the list. There's actually quite a lot of historical fiction on there:
.."

Thanks Jess! I appreciate the dates of the settings.

I'll ad..."


Yeah, I'm not saying that the second list isn't historical fiction, but rather that those books are known for things other than being set in a particular historical period.

Thanks for the update Claire.

I missed Things Fall Apart and Catch-22.

When is The Godfather set? I haven't read it (or seen the film for that matter) so I wasn't sure on the time period.

The Grapes of Wrath, Little Women and Their Eyes Were Watching God were all written in the time period when they were set so it depends what definition we are going with. They definitely illustrate the age that they were written in though.


message 10: by Claire (new)

Claire  | 6 comments I missed Things Fall Apart and Catch-22.

When is The Godfather set? I haven't read it (or seen the film for that matter) so I wasn't sure on the time period.

The Grapes of Wrath, Little Women and Their Eyes Were Watching God were all written in the time period when they were set so it depends what definition we are going with. They definitely illustrate the age that they were written in though.


I think The Godfather can be placed in the US in the years right after WW II and partly earlier. It has been a long time since I read them, so I cannot tell which period exactely, but I think beginning 20 th century.

I included the others cause NancyJ asked those interesting regardless of time laps.


message 11: by QNPoohBear (last edited Jul 25, 2018 12:20PM) (new)

QNPoohBear | 16 comments Their Eyes Were Watching God is historical fiction. It takes place in a time that was contemporary to the time it was written but before the year it was published. Part of it takes place in 1928- centered around the Okeechobee hurricane.

The Notebook goes back and forth between the 1940s and present day.

The setting of Pride and Prejudice is contemporary to the time in which it was written, however, the exact year is a subject of debate. The first draft of the novel "First Impressions" was written probably as an epistolary novel in 1796. It was later revised and published in 1813.

Anne of Green Gables takes place starting in 1888. It's ambiguous because the references are all over the place but backdating from Rilla of Ingleside pinpoints the year. It was published in 1908.

The Book Thief is speculative fiction set during WWII. I haven't read it but that's what I gather from reading reviews.

Bless Me, Ultima is a coming of age story set in the 1940s. It's a sort of fantasy novel.

Wuthering Heights takes place earlier in the 19th-century than it was written. It's retold by the narrator who heard it from a servant who witnessed some of the events first hand in her younger days. The events take place between the 1770s and 1802.

While Frankenstein contains many current to the early 19th century ideas about science and religion, it's not specifically historical fiction.

The first part of Great Expectations takes place earlier in the 19th century than the 1861 publishing date.


message 12: by Linda Abhors the New GR Design (last edited Jul 25, 2018 03:14PM) (new)

Linda Abhors the New GR Design | 915 comments One Hundred Years of Solitude is both A and C. There are clear references to historical events that really took place. However, there are other elements that are totally off the wall (and the characters' acceptance of those events as "normal" is what makes it magical realism, not that those events took place = the short lesson :))

Also,
Doña Bárbara
can be seen as portraying life at the time, takes place around the turn of the last century, so list B.

Don Quijote, can't remember if A or B, but definitely B. He's mad, but the attitude toward literature at the time (any work which required the imagination that was not the BIble), and society's reaction to it, plus the customs of the time (clothing, chivalry, etc.) would count as describing a way of life.


Linda Abhors the New GR Design | 915 comments I'm guessing (haven't read it yet) that Heart of Darkness can also be considered historical (depiction of imperialism and its effects)

Moby-Dick or, The Whale in its depiction of life in/around the East Coast whaling towns and whaling in itself, the importance of whales to life at the time.

Invisible Man for its depiction of life pre-Civil Rights gains.

It's been so long I can't remember, would any of you put
The Call of the Wild on one of these lists?


message 14: by NancyJ, Moderator (new)

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
Claire wrote: "I missed Things Fall Apart and Catch-22.

When is The Godfather set? I haven't read it (or seen the film for that matter) so I wasn't sure on the time period.

The Grapes of Wrath, Little Women a..."


I think the Godfather had flashbacks going back to the 1920's but I'm not sure when it finished (1960's probably). Even if doesn't meet the official def of HF, it gives us a great view of the subculture (Mafia) in the mid 1900's. Same with Grapes of Wrath and Little Women, for their time periods.


message 15: by NancyJ, Moderator (new)

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
QNPoohBear wrote: "Their Eyes Were Watching God is historical fiction. It takes place in a time that was contemporary to the time it was written but before the year it was published. Part of it takes pla..."

Interesting! I didn't know The Book Thief was speculative! Same with Bless Me Ultima. Frankenstein can be categorized in horror or sci-fi.

I like the term speculative, because there are a lot of books that don't have the Science part of Sci-fi, and they are more realistic than most fantasy/paranormal stories. There are a LOT more on the list than I thought.

paranormal/fantasy world


message 16: by NancyJ, Moderator (new)

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
Linda Abhors the New GR Design wrote: "I'm guessing (haven't read it yet) that Heart of Darkness can also be considered historical (depiction of imperialism and its effects)

Moby-Dick or, The Whale in its depi..."


Yes, I think it shows a particular time and place, though I don't know about the date of the setting v writing.


message 17: by NancyJ, Moderator (new)

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
Thanks everyone. More notes? These notes might be of interest as we pick more books. Coming up with genre lists turned out to be a bit harder than I thought it would be.

Jess, thanks for providing the setting date for Lonesome Dove. I'm both reading and listening, and I didn't catch any dates.


Linda Abhors the New GR Design | 915 comments Just a fun fact: novels, which at that time meant Don Quijote and other chivalry stories that it parodied, were banned in the New World, because imagining fictional worlds/events might lead you to use your imagination for other things, which might in turn lead you to question the Bible. Only poetry, religious texts-such as plays-and chronicles were allowed.
So Don Quijote came into colonial Latin America as contraband, hidden in trunks, etc.


message 19: by QNPoohBear (new)

QNPoohBear | 16 comments Moby Dick was loosely based on the sinking of the ship Essex in 1820. It's a HUGE deal in New England whaling communities. The Nantucket Whaling Museum has a whole exhibit based around that one event.
In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex is a non-fiction look at the event that inspired Moby Dick.


message 20: by Kirsten (new)

Kirsten  (kmcripn) NancyJ wrote: "QNPoohBear wrote: "Their Eyes Were Watching God is historical fiction. It takes place in a time that was contemporary to the time it was written but before the year it was published. P..."

Margaret Atwood INSISTS on that term for many of her books (i.e., Handmaid's Tale, Oryx & Crake)


message 21: by Parker (new)

Parker | 204 comments QNPoohBear wrote: "Moby Dick was loosely based on the sinking of the ship Essex in 1820 [snip]. In the Heart of the Sea: the Trgedy of tne Whaleship Essex is a non-fiction look at the events which inspired Moby Dick."

In the Heart of the Sea is a fantastic book, though not for the faint-hearted.


message 22: by NancyJ, Moderator (new)

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
Kirsten wrote: "NancyJ wrote: "QNPoohBear wrote: "Their Eyes Were Watching God is historical fiction. It takes place in a time that was contemporary to the time it was written but before the year it w..."

Atwood ....
Which term- speculative?


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