13 Oct 2009

WHEN DOES MODERN FICTION BECOME HISTORICAL FICTION?

They say that a piece of furniture, ornaments, jewellery etc only truly become an antique when they are 100 years old. My question is when does a work of 'modern' fiction become a work of 'historical' fiction - is it when the story is set 'x' number of years ago?

As an example, take three books that I have read and reviewed lately - Guernica by Dave Boling, The Return by Victoria Hislop and Hamers War by Francis Cottam, the first two set during the Spanish Civil War and the third during the Second World War. I would have classed all three of these books as historical fiction and yet all are classified as modern fiction. Why?

11 comments:

GMR said...

I think (and I SO could be wrong!) that they are being classified more for the way (or style) they are written than what they are written about.....not all books mind you, as I've seen plenty that seem to be classified in reverse.

GMR said...

Oh, and I like the new blog layout!

Bad Alice said...

Could it be because of the way libraries catalog and shelve them? Over here the Library of Congress will sometimes assign a book to a category based on their own opinion (based on the bits and pieces the publisher provides them with and despite what the publisher says it is). Then that is what goes into the LOC marking in the book, and that's how it's shelved

Kelly said...

The way I see it (personal opinion) is that it's Historical Fiction if it is based on places and events of the past. I've not ever given this any real thought before (since most of the Historical Fiction I read really IS from centuries past) so I'm not sure where I would put the dividing line on time. Like you, I would consider the book I just finished based in 1945 as Historical Fiction.

Good question! I'll be interested in seeing what everyone else has to say, too.

susan s. said...

Is there also contemporary fiction? If so how far back does that go?

Melissa (My World) said...

This really is a great question. But, I am sorry I don't even have any guess's. I don't know what to say. I am curious as to what the others are saying though.

....Petty Witter said...

Thanks for all your thoughts and ideas. I've decided there's only 1 thing for it - I shall visit our local library and ask them if they can shed any light on the matter so watch this space.

GMR: Glad you like my new look blog.

Susan: It's just become even more complicated, I hadn't even given the first thought to contemporary fiction - theres something else I need to find out.

Jenners said...

That is a really good question!!!! I would have thought those would be historical fiction too. Maybe it isn't "historical" if people who lived then are still alive!

....Petty Witter said...

Good point Jenners, I hadn't thought of that.

Sheila (bookjourney) said...

Good discussion! Love historical fiction reads! Hadnt really thought about the point in which they become historical.

I would really like to see a new genre of hysterical fiction.....:) I am always up for a good laugh.

....Petty Witter said...

Susan, further research leads me to believe modern and contemporary fiction are, in fact, one and the same thing (and who am I to argue?)