At a time when the historical romance seemed to be degenerating into thrill-seeking, shoddy journalism, or bedroom farce in costume, Alfred Duggan continued to produce works that are historical novels in the true sense of the word. In his books, it is not the very pastness of the past that is important, the nostalgic appeal of the far away and long ago, but the Realism of his presentation within the limits of his period. He had the ability to create against the background of the past a world so solidly constructed that his novels make ancient Roman or medieval times as real as the present. His men and women live in violent and picturesque periods, but the writer held them true to the experiences that have been common to mankind in all ages.
His success came partly from his handling of a special point of view. In Duggan’s novels, there is no looking backward from the twentieth century toward an earlier time, with all the curiosity or condescension which such a glimpse into the past usually involves. Sensitive to the mood of an age, he refused to let his characters think or feel as they would in a later period. In THE LADY FOR RANSOM, for example, there is no suggestion of anything in time beyond the spectacle of the great Byzantine civilization tottering to its fall and of the adventures of some Norman mercenaries involved in border wars between the Eastern Roman Empire and the Seljuk Turks.
The connection between these events and...
(The entire section is 1300 words.)
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