Harry Houdini In Ragtime

439 Words2 Pages
E. L. Doctorow’s Ragtime is a work of historical fiction that uniquely allows both fictional and historical characters to take part in events that depict life in early 20th-century America. Various historical figures are interconnected to one another and described throughout the text including Emma Goldman, Robert Peary, Matthew Henson, Harry Kendall Thaw, Evelyn Nesbit, Sigmund Freud, and Harry Houdini. When speaking of Harry Houdini in Chapter 13 of Ragtime, Doctorow utilizes historical research as a foundation for explaining Houdini’s emotional state at that point in the plot. Doctorow writes, “Houdini decided to concentrate on his outdoor exploits. Going on tour he escaped from a packing case nailed shut and tied with ropes that had…show more content…
In this scene, historical research positively affects the narrative by allowing historical events and the interpreted (or assumed) emotions of the characters to create a balanced reading experience. Through Doctorow’s writing, I have learned that great works of historical fiction blend both fact and fiction to create a meaningful and engaging experience for readers. While reading Ragtime, readers are left wondering what is and is not true in regards to the life of the numerous characters. The line between fact and fiction is blurred, thus fostering a strong reading experience where readers are not dragged out of the fictional world by facts that are overwhelmingly clear and distracting from the main plotline. This will help my writing by encouraging me to incorporate facts where they seamlessly fit in the text, as opposed to placing historical elements in careless, literary locations that create a lackluster reading experience. By continuing to read texts from the historical fiction genre, an aspiring (as well as current) writer can monitor the various ways historical research affects a piece, whether it be in a positive or negative

More about Harry Houdini In Ragtime

Get Access