what is the relationship between history and literature?  what is the relationship between history and literature?    

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litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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No literature exists in a vacuum. It is influenced by history, and it is also influenced by the present. If you are reading a piece of literature written in the past, you need to understand the historical time period in order to fully appreciate and understand that literature.
vangoghfan's profile pic

vangoghfan | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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The relationship between literature and history is complicated, with each affecting the other. One main contention of the so-called "new historicist" approach to literary criticism is that history does not simply provide a "context" for literature but many "contexts," and that literature in turn can affect history in numerous and unpredictable ways.

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wannam | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

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History shapes many forms of literature.  We tend to get ideas for literature from things that have happened.  Sometimes this comes in the form of non-fiction literature and sometimes it comes in the form of allegories or allusions.  We cannot fully understand a piece of literature unless we understand its history and the history of those that wrote it.  Thus, history can shape the way we view literature.  Of course, that works both ways.  Literature can also shape the way we view history.  It is said that history is written by the victors.  We don't always get the whole story of what happened in our literary histories.  Often, the history of a place is written down by the conquerors and survivors.  We might not see the whole truth of what happened.

stolperia's profile pic

stolperia | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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This would be an interesting discussion starter on the Literature or History Discussion Forum. I suspect there would be many different interpretations and viewpoints expressed.

From my standpoint, history is all that has happened in the past. History includes natural events, such as movements of tectonic plates leading to the formation of continents, and events involving humanity, such as wars and birthdays.

Literature includes written records of events that are history. Literature allows humanity to have a collective source of memories of events from the past. The hope would be that people would be able to learn by reviewing those records and seeing patterns, making connections and generalizing about events or attitudes and consequences of those occurrences. The writing down of history allows people to progress beyond one stage of thought or development, building on what has gone before.

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orbislit | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

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Critics such as Paul Fussell have suggested the nature is recriprocal. If life is contined in history: Literature conveys forms on life, while life conveys form on literature.

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