Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

re-writing history November 20, 2012

Filed under: OUTLANDERishness,Teaching — Shawn L. Bird @ 10:39 pm
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I’m just about to start George Orwell’s 1984 with my English 12s.  One of the themes to explore is how history is manipulated to serve the present.

Classic example from this year: The Conservative government did that with their celebrations commemorating the War of 1812 “Yay! We Canadians beat the Americans!”.  Of course, the Americans say “Yay! We beat the British!”

Diana Gabaldon asserts that this propensity is not the fault of the historians…

              “No, the fault lies with the artists,” Claire went on.  “The writers, the singers, the tellers of tales.  It’s them that take the past and re-create it to their liking.  Them that could take a fool and give you back a hero, take a sot and make him a king.”

                “Are they all liars, then?” Roger asked. 

                “Liars?” she asked, “or sorcerers?  Do they see the bones in the dust of the earth, see the essence of a thing that was, and clothe it in new flesh, so the plodding beast re-emerges as a fabulous monster?”

(Diana Gabaldon, Dragonfly in Amber, p. 814)

Politicians do it.  Writers do it as they re-imagine historical experience from the perspectives of their characters.  Artists do it when they clean up their subjects (


Day 20 NaNoWriMo: 0   (Total November: 32054)


3 Responses to “re-writing history”

  1. olbigjim Says:

    I recently read 1984 again after so many, many years. Chilling!

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