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Roman Roamin > The novel can be the perfect vehicle to make history come alive
The novel can be the perfect vehicle to make history come aliveStephen Crane said he wrote "The Red Badge of Courage" in 1895 because he wanted to experience the Civil War like one of the veterens. He wanted to smell the acrid air of battle, know the thirst of men who bit through gunpowder cartridges with their teeth, feel the stomach-churning fear while waiting to go into action, and the vindicating pain of a gunshot wound. History books just reported troop movements, not the experience of being there. In the end he decided that if he wanted to feel it as they felt it, he had to write it himself. And so he did. He wrote a novel that captured the experience of a real slice of history.
Colleen McCullough says about her "First Man in Rome" series: "Provided that history is adhered to and the writer can resist the temptation to visit his or her own modern attitudes, ethics, morals and ideals upon the period and its characters, the novel is an excellent way to explore a different time. It permits the writer to climb inside the characters' heads and wander the maze of their thoughts and emotions: a luxury not permitted to professional historians, but one that can render understandable events that are otherwise inexplicable, mysterious or incongruous. During the course of these six books, I have taken the external events of some very famous lives and attempted to create rounded, believable human beings endowed with all the complexities common sense dictates they must have possessed."
I couldn't have said it any better, so I used her words.