Explore BrainMass

History & Literature: Exploring the Relationship

Provide a brief summary of the relationship between history and literature by answering the following questions. What is the relationship between history and literature? Is one subordinate to the other? What can we learn, for example, (be specific)? Does knowledge of history make a story more powerful, more "real?" Does history create literature and, in turn, literature create history?

© BrainMass Inc. brainmass.com June 22, 2018, 8:41 am ad1c9bdddf

Solution Preview

Dear Student,

For the purpose of providing you the best possible guide in answering this question. What I will give you below is a concise but comprehensive enough narrative to help get you going. The word history can have varied connotations in varied disciplines. In the general, when we say 'history' we refer to past experiences as in the sentence, 'What is your academic history?' or 'Our family history indicates my great grandfather was British.' or ' I have a history with falling for the wrong person.' Used in the general term - history refers to past events in a person or any other subject's 'life' - I say 'life' because at times we even use the word to indicate the 'history of ownership as in 'the history of this Castle'. But for the purpose of this discussion, I want you to remember that when you are studying History as an academic discipline, you are studying history as a social science - the critical and academic inquiry that seeks to understand the past with a focus on the written records pertaining to the human experience - 'Human History' from the earliest period when scholars can trace evidentiary records about human activities to the recent past easily accessed in an age of digital 'fingertip' information. The history then referred to in the question you posted is documented human events. For the purpose of understanding the difference between 'history' and 'literature' we must review the principles of historiography - the science that makes and dictates what a 'history' must be. To do this we must reckon back to the time of Thucydides, a contemporary of Herodotus - the ancient scholar many deem as the father of History via his work, the 'Histories' - a record of his observation of the social world and realities in his travels all over the ancient world.

Herodotus is an important figure - his work generated interest about the many places and peoples that populated their known world. Since it was written and remained in Athenian and Greek Libraries, his work were then preserved and studied by the Romans who looked at knowledge as a way of understanding their reality. Herodotus' work gave knowledge to those who read him and gave the Romans advantage over knowing their 'enemy' which allowed them to conquer. What made Herodotus' work lacking as 'a history' is what makes Thucydides work a 'science'? Historiography, the science of researching, writing and putting together a historical account point to Thucydides early work as among the 'pillars' of historiography that established it as a social science. His account of the 2 decade-Peloponnesian War that took place between Spartan-led Peloponnesian League & Athenians in Ancient Greece greatly informed writers, historians and scholars of antiquity that came after him with his work still resounding in the halls of Medieval, Renaissance and now modern scholars. There are two schools of thought that emerged through the ...

Solution Summary

The solution provides an expansive and comprehensive discussion and narrative discussing the inter-relation of history and literature as academic disciplines that are influence, derive from and at times have created a 'depency' on each other. The relationship between said disciplines are explored and the discussion illustrates by using the work of Historians like Anthony Beevor and ancient classical accounts by Thucydides and Herodotus and literary work of writers Charles Dickens, Promoedya Ananta Toer and Jose Rizal. The role that each discipline takes on as 'text-source' for each other is also explained. History and literature's role and sociological research is also touched. Web-sources for expansion are provided.