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  • Writer's pictureWilliam Tyler

Fiction writers write about the subject of History

Sometimes non historians writing about history as a subject can offer great insights. Here are a few chosen somewhat at random from my Commonplace Books:

Past a certain point, all the dates grow hazy and confused, and the clarity of history becomes the fog of legend. George Martin, A Dance with Dragons Part 2

The past lay ahead as well as behind. Robert Goddard, The Ends of the Earth

History is best left in the past, so that legends do not interfere with our daily lives. Herbert and Anderson, Sisterhood of Dune

A message for the pandemic?

Historians and scientists face in opposite directions: One looks to the past, the other to the future. The wise scientist, however, listens to historians and considers the past in order to create the most acceptable future. Herbert and Anderson, Sisterhood of Dune

Just because it was a long time ago .... does't mean it doesn't matter. That's the lesson of history, surely .......The past explains everything in the end. The Norfolk Mystery, Ian Sansom

The past is never dead. It's not even past. William Faulkner

History is meaningless unless you discern how the past shapes the present. Corpus, Rory Clements

My favourite quote of all is not from a fiction writer at all but from the American historian, Alan Axelrod, writing in the Frontispiece to his book, Idiots History of America:-

History is fun . It should never be approached like a dose of medicine,but like a big bowl of ice cream.

This is the quote I would us if training history teachers of the future, whether school, college, or university.

And, finally, an unlikely source for a quote on history, namely Mario Draghi in his last Press Conference as ECB President, 2019

You can't change history - unless you're an historian.

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