Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Historical Truth

In the professional world of historians, there is some debate over the presence of truth in history. (For those of you who are students of history, this concept will come as no surprise.)

The idea is, other than dates of events, all else is filtered through the person relating the fact. We are all prisoners of our own time periods. How we tell a story reflects who we are and when we live, and thus is a snapshot of us - and should be used by historians to study us, not the "facts" in the story we're trying to tell.

This concept is used to good effect in A Sentimental Murder by John Brewer. Instead of looking for the objective truth of what happened in this historical true crime murder mystery (which is essentially unknowable), he looks at how the telling of the murder changed over the centuries depending on who was doing the telling, why they told the story, and when they were telling it.

It's really quite fascinating, if you're into that sort of thing, and I recommend it.


  1. Thank you for the tip, Ms. Saville. I'll check it out.

  2. You're quite welcome! Thanks for reading. :)