One criticism I have is that the voices -Vollman's, Bevin's and the Reverend's - aren't distinct enough to recognize them without checking who's speaking, but on the whole I tended to like the three of them.
I don't think LitB can be accomodated in any easy "genre": it is certainly not historical novel (although, as we have discussed, contains elements of it), not magical realism, not pure fantasy.
: Yes, I thought of the Three Musketeers, too,
: as well as War and Peace, Ragtime, Gore
: Vidal's multi-volume saga that includes both
: Burr and Lincoln, and of course, Wolf Hall.
: Some of these (Wolf Hall and Burr) adhere
: closely to historical fact, as I understand
: it. Some, like Ragtime, play "fast and
: loose" with their historical
: What sets LitB apart is the use of (some)
: real historical citations, often
: first-person accounts. Saunders
: accomplishes a couple of different, even
: contrasting things this way. He establishes
: his verisimilitude, which is indeed
: impressive, while also calling into question
: the accuracy of first-hand accounts (most
: amusingly with the moon). Apparently the
: nonfiction "oral history" of Edie
: Sedgwick also features direct contradictions
: in first-hand accounts, which Saunders cited
: as an inspiration. I agree that the
: historical sections are indeed
: "superb." What did you two think
: of the spirits? (It has been pointed out
: that they are not really "ghosts"
: since no living person ever sees them.)
: --Previous Message--
: I finished yesterday, so you two can go
: with spoilers. I liked the book, and from
: what I've been reading of your postings I
: see that the first discussion is about the
: citations, real and invented, and then we
: will move on to the "ghost" part.
: Let me add my two cents to this discussion:
: as you were exchanging your thoughts on
: "history", "novel" and
: the space in between, usually called
: "non-fiction novel" (as "In
: Cold Blood"), I was reminded very much
: of Alexandre Dumas. I guess we can all agree
: that by the time Dumas wrote (the middle of
: the XIX Century), the "pure",
: fictional novel had been solidly
: established. However, Dumas made free use of
: true historical events and characters and
: intermingled them with the stories of his
: "purely" fictional characters.
: Now, there is a qualification to this last
: assertion: there WAS a real captain of
: musketeers called D'Artagnan, and his
: memoirs are extant, you can buy them and
: read them.
: Now, Dumas didn't expect his reasders to
: believe that what he told was
: "history", but perhaps he expected
: them to believe that his portrayal of
: historical characters was, at least,
: seriously debatable, that is, subject to
: opinion, but not "false":
: Richelieu would have been revered by some
: people and reviled by others, but no one
: would deny that he was a cunning, able
: statesman, a loyal ally and a fearsome foe.
: The same with Mazarino: a cowardly miser, or
: the saviour of the monarchy during the
: infancy of Louis XIV, but certainly a lesser
: figure than Richelieu. I could go on, but my
: point is that there IS something that is not
: history not purely fiction (remember Hilary
: Mantel's saga about Thomas Cromwell).
: Since you can not pierce the minds of
: historical characters beyond, say their
: letters, the novelist allows him/herself to
: imagine their intimate thoughts and emotions
: to try to make sense of their actions.
: I think LitB is a superb example of this
: effort, always conscious of memory's
: failings and the unavoidable opposition of
: points of view. Lincoln, too, is revered by
: some and reviled by others, and the
: circumstances attending Willie's death would
: have to be necessarily polemical.
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