I know. I’m confused also.
But I will not be pulling out the therapy couch today, because it is not time for such things. (Later, perhaps. Today? Nope.)
I’ve been revising and editing my MS recently (which I wrote in less than a month. Because I’m nuts, mostly), which has involved me doing some research.Not just any research- research into very specific geographical locations in a very tight time frame. (And no, I will not tell you more, because it will give things away and we’re not there yet.) There isn’t that much information to be found about it, which has been fascinating and frustrating all at the same time.
Okay, there probably is a lot more information that Googling may not find.It’s been said that history is told by winners.
I’m not so sure as it’s told by winners, or that it’s the story of the winners that are remembered. That the winners tend to be dramatized and romanticized.
Stories of heroism very often miss the not so exciting parts of the story. The life of a soldier is nine parts excruciating boredom and one part terror and action, as is the life of a firefighter.As with fiction, people don’t necessarily want to hear about the ‘boring’ parts of history- only the interesting and the entertaining. So you end up with girls imagining what it must have been like to live in Regency England- gowns and dresses and dashing and handsome Dukes and Princes and Earls and Barons and maybe the occasional *GASP!* working man. Like Regency England was just one big fairy tale of tea and scones and the occasional fainting couch.
Statistically speaking, most of the people who are reading about Regency England, should they have lived there themselves, would, if they were lucky, be working as a maid in the Duke’s home. Personally? Depending on the year, I probably wouldn’t have been legally able to live in England at all. (Yay Jewish diaspora and exile from most European countries!)
Everyone always talks about the good old days. We like to romanticize our pasts, when really, things tend not to be as rosy and wonderful as we remember them to be. Read an old diary or journal just to remind yourself that your whole childhood wasn’t all wonderful and fabulous. (A lot of it may have been- but not all of it.) Historical fiction, a lot of times is the same way. Saying that all of history, before we came along, was the good ol’ days. The downsides of history are oftentimes, just ignored. Like how gross it probably was to have a chamber pot. And getting your period, if you were a woman (no pads, no tampons, no advil, no chocolate). And childbirth, for that matter. And how if you, with the mind you have now, were actually thrown back to Victorian England, you’d probably be banished from polite society so fast your head would fall off. That sitting around embroidering things (a FAVORITE pastime of the privileged woman) would make you want to stab your eyes out. That women’s lib didn’t really exist at all, and those who thought that women had equal rights were not really that popular. That knighthood was not always that heroic and magnificent, and that pillaging through people’s villages because they could is not really that chivalrous. That living in a small town in Middle America back during the 1800s was no picnic, and the chances of you getting shot by a random drunk were pretty high. That not all slave owners in the South had gigantic, humongous plantations and a lot were really not very wealthy at all (unequal distribution of wealth, holla!). We forget that statistically, most people during most of history were REALLY, REALLY, REALLY POOR.
I’m not trying to be the Debbie Downer pessimistic voice of BLAH here, just trying to keep things a bit realistic in our referencing our pasts.And then we can tackle things like the rest of the world’s history, and not just the few white little countries that can have somewhat of a glamorized past. What was happening in China in the 1700s? What was really going on in South America? Australia? Malaysia? Africa? I can go on and on and on (history is quite a long time, darlings) but I will spare you from all of that today.
In our looking back at history, we forget what things were probably like. How long people lived back then. Of the spread of diseases, of the way people thought and acted, and that just like us, people from the past were far from perfect.The MS I’m editing now isn’t historical fiction. And I’m trying as much as I can that I’m giving a fair portrayal of history in it. Because history, when told wrong, when not doing as much as you can to uncover a full picture of what happened, isn’t really history anymore.
It’s a one-sided account of a story.
Every story has two sides, at the very least.Why should the past of humanity be any different?
Question time, should you so wish: What period in history do you think REALLY needs some other views? What time period would you like to read about more in fiction, and in non-fiction, too? I was in the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan on Monday with a friend of mine, and that got me thinking- which time periods in history do you think we’ve kind of forgotten about? Which countries did we forget about? (Because Britain was not the only country during the 1700s and 1800s, although they may have thought so…) And what historical cliché/inaccuracy would you like to never, ever, ever hear about again?As always, thanks for reading my rambles, and have a Happy Thursday! xo
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