Essay on In Defense of Historical Fiction

1310 Words 6 Pages
The genre of historical fiction novels can be subdivided into many categories and often crosses genres, such as historical mysteries and romances. The traditional definition of the historical fiction genre is “fiction set in the past” where the author is writing from research rather than personal experience. This definition leaves a lot of room for interpretation, controversy, and contradiction. Critics in the media, even when they praise individual historical novels in their reviews, somehow manage to turn this praise into criticism of the genre as a whole. In 1950, author Howard Fast, a historical novelist himself, wrote: “This is an era of many historical novels, few of them good and very few indeed which have more than a nodding …show more content…
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain is a classic example of a successful historical fiction novel depicting the life and adventures of youthful boys in the Mississippi River town of St. Petersburg, Missouri and various locations along the river through Arkansas. Readers of this novel are confronted with difficult themes such as slavery and revolution in the south before the Civil War. In chapter 6 of the novel we see Huck’s father, Pap, confronted with a finely dressed and educated free African American. As the man passes Pap states, “There, now – that's a specimen. They call that a govment that can't sell a free nigger till he's been in the State six months. Here's a govment that calls itself a govment, and lets on to be a govment, and thinks it is a govment, and yet's got to set stock-still for six whole months before it can take a hold of a prowling, thieving, infernal, white-shirted free nigger.” (Twain 151). This little speech by Pap shows that he’s a blatant racist who treats African-Americans as though they are not at all human beings. This novel is full of authentic points of view from the various characters Huck encounters on his adventures. Twain uses dialog such as this to educate readers about past conflicts such as the Civil War and slavery. Although highly controversial, this novel has been used as an educational tool in English literature classrooms for years. The point is there are numerous historical fiction
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