Relationship Between History and Literature

In this course we have been trying to define what Literature and History mean. It’s hard to come up with an exact definition for each of these and there are many different points of view to consider. So in the end, how can we define History and Literature?

We’ve been struggling to try to come to an agreement because we have to be careful not to cross over into being completely subjective. In my case it has been easier to find how these terms are intertwined and to see that one can’t exist without the other. The most direct relationship that I can see between them is that Literature is one way we can communicate History. We are able to know what happened in ancient times because of stories and myths, which constitute a type of Literature. History is normally transmitted by textbooks but it is also present in novels and poems.

If we try to find another type of relationship there’s the dynamic that happens to students in school. In English class teachers usually choose the books for you. We as students may not really understand why some books are more important than others or why they are regarded as amazing pieces of Literature. This is where History can really come in handy. If one takes the time to become informed about the author and his context then it is possible to evaluate a work with different eyes.

Events in History can greatly influence the work of an author and the effects of this can then be seen in the work. Literature can show us how people of a certain period of time behaved, what were the values that were prioritized and even show how the author rebels or disagrees with their own context. Literature can give us a painting of history.
In addition it is also necessary to look closely at the context in which the author puts his characters in. The same process happens here. The characters may be put into a historical context that illustrates that period of time and this can help the readers understand decisions and situations that may happen inside the book. Sometimes we can read books that are happening in a different period of time that isn’t close to ours and we may not understand the dynamics of that precise society. So if we use history as a reference, it can be a tool for the reader to be able to comprehend the context better and actually even be able to empathize with the characters.

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