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History Paper

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Bimal Patel

History Paper II

T.A: Adrianne

Fiction vs. Fact

Traditionally, writing styles are mainly divided into three categories, Narrative, Expository and Persuasive. Historical writing is considered of type expository where as historical fiction falls under narrative style of writing. The primary difference between thses two styles of writing is that, narrative writing focuses on describing a fictional experience while expository writing focuses on conveying an information or tries to explain the facts in lucid language. Historical fiction presents more realistic view of the past than textual history does because unlike textual history, fiction allows the readers to be a spectator and watch the whole drama unfolding in front of their eyes. Some of the information in the novel about the characters can be assumed from the sources that inspire a fictional writer like personal understanding of a character or other evidences like letters and documents. Nonetheless the kind of details like existing conditions, geography of the plot and emotional states of the characters allows the readers to experience the whole event without having to deal with the intricacies of keeping track of chronological order of the events. Historical fiction like historical truth is not obliged to prove the legitimacy of an event. Textual writings on history presents the authors' point of view about an event while historical fiction presents the authors' view of the involved characters point of view about an event. Although historical writing and historical fiction have few things in common they present absolutely different view about a particular historical event. I believe that readers tend to learn more about a historical event from historical fiction than textual history.

Historical fiction provides in depth description about a particular event than textbook does. The novel written on the Battle of Gettysburg and its textual counterpart clearly shows the distinction between two genres. The account of war as described in the textbook is short and brief. In less than ten lines, the authors give their readers the complete description of the battlefield and not needed the two armies involved, and and vague introductions of the chief commanding officers of both armies.1 Comparing the same event with one from a historical fictional novel, it is distinctly clear that the novel describes the war front in more detail. It gives detailed information about the weather at that time, kind of ground the war was fought on, presence of trees and mountains that played important role in winning the war and also vividly describes the physical appearance of characters and their emotions or emotional state of mind at the time.2 The textbook provides no information on how the war was fought as opposed to the novel that portrays the war time strategies from the perspective of both the Generals. The textbook informs the readers about the death count while the fictional novel narrates the cruelty and outcome of the battle in more picturesque way. Chamberlain on one account described the out come of a day's war in a rather descriptive way saying that the mutilated bodies of the soldiers had left water dirty and bloody. He further describes the death in terms of his senses like smell and inability to pass through the creek which is filled with the dead soldiers.(Shaara, Pg.298). Historical fiction often uses metaphors to bring about the descriptiveness in the narration. During the course of the book, the novelist compares living men to many inanimate objects to emphasize their character and personality. Chamberlain describes the movement of Reb troops as lapping wave rolling up the beach.(Shaara, Pg.229). This vividness binds the readers and feeds them with information beyond the facts as depicted by textbook.

The importance of historical text from a historian stems from the fact that historical writing not only provides us with the information of a particular event but also explains the forces that lead to that particular event. The American Civil War was the result of growing differences between northern and southern states in terms of religion, culture, politics, and slavery. The Second Great Awakening, which was a great religious movement, emphasized salvation for every soul and pushed towards abolition of slavery and it was met with a great resistance in the southern states.(Maier, Pg.420). However, by 1838, a growing number of abolitionist leaders acknowledge that slavery was morally wrong and pamphleteering effort and the opposition shifted the abolition of slavery from religious to political point of view.(Maier, Pg.425). From a historian's view, both sides in the Battle of Gettysburg knew why they were fighting the war as the reasons

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