History (General) Questions and Answers

Start Your Free Trial

What is an example of  historical fiction?

Expert Answers info

wannam eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2011

write1,438 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and Science

Historical fiction is one type of fictional writing. There is some aspect of non-fiction in this type of literature. Usually, the setting, time period, and even some events really happened in history. However, the main characters are fictional. Often, this type of literature is written about notable events in history. The flecks of truth in the story make the fictional portions seem much more real to the reader. One example of historical fiction is The Three Musketeers. This story takes place during a very tumultuous time in French and English history. Many of the events are true but the three musketeers themselves never existed. The characters based on the French king, the English king, and other important officials are simply an approximation. The author took what he knew about these men and used real events to spin a fictional story.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial



emubarek | Student

Historical fiction is a very popular genre of literature in which the author creates a fictionalized story that takes place in a historical setting. Though the story being told is fictional, it often interweaves non-fiction, historical events and people into the tale, thus bringing the historical narrative to life for the readers.

There are numerous examples of this genre in popular literature today. The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah, is a more recent example of this type of literary work, as it is a book that takes place in France during World War II. The story follows the lives of fictional characters, sisters Vianne and Isabelle, and how they survive and fight against the German occupation of their homeland, which was a very real historical event. In "A Conversation with Kristin Hannah" at the end of the Reading Group Gold paperback edition of The Nightingale, when questioned on her writing process, Hannah sums up the nature of historical fiction perfectly:

“I began as I always do: with research. It’s really the research—in any novel—that informs the story. First I find out what has happened, and then I begin to extrapolate what could happen, and then I create a world that makes sense to me, an imaginary world firmly planted in the truth… As far as complete accuracy and artistic license, of course I took a few liberties—it’s fiction, after all—but I did it all with an eye toward telling a story that felt as true as possible.”

Other popular classics that you may have heard of that fit into this genre include titles such as Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, Outlander by Diana Gabaldon , numerous Philippa Gregory novels, and many others.

sbroders | Student

"Historical fiction" is an umbrella term, generally comprising fiction set in the past, such as Sir Walter Scott's Waverley, which he published in 1814. Waverley is not set in Scott's present, but fictionalizes the last Jacobite uprising in 1745. It has therefore a historical topic. More recent examples are Ken Follet's The Pillars of the Earth or William Boyd's An Ice-Cream War.

Georg Lukács' influential study The Historical Novel demands a "concrete depiction of history as history" as a basic feature of the genre of the historical novel, i.e. authors of historical novels are not to recount the sequence of historical events, but to represent the motivations, feelings and characters of the persons who figured prominently in those events, as accurately as possible.

Lukács notion of the historical novel is therefore mimetic, in the sense of an imitative reconstruction of the historical past.

The changing perception of history as philosophy of history takes models of individual memory as a starting point for research and emphasizes the transformation and reconstruction of the historical source in the processs of its reception by the historian.

Linda Hutcheon defines a new subgenre within the historical novel that takes the changing practices of traditional historiography into account – the historiographic metafiction.

While the historical novels of Sir Walter Scott were still firmly grounded in the belief in an objective historical science, in postmodernist novels, history is constituted by the individual. Totalitarian modes of presentation are replaced by the realization that the past can only be accessed through the stories we tell about it.