Thursday, July 21, 2011
What is revisionism?
On a grand scale, revisionism is just retelling or reinterpreting something.
What I deal with:
Specifically, most of my work falls under a combination of historical and fictional revisionism.
What's historical revisionism?
Well, "it is the reinterpretation of orthodox views on evidence, motivations, and decision-making processes surrounding a historical event." That's from Wikipedia and I like such a concise explanation. Now, while I don't consider my work historical fiction, I do work with some "historical" figures and events. Mainly, my interests are in religious figures. I know, I know, sticky ground to work in, but simply looking at it in a scholarly way, religious figures are either fiction or historical fact depending on who you talk to. I'm not going to talk about what I believe, because that's irrelevant. Nor am I going to say that I am altering the words of historical texts (because I try not to step on toes). Instead, I like to either twist or give a 'shadow history' to what pieces like the Bible say. There are many things that are mentioned once or glossed over in the Bible. People make inferences about them and assume they understand what these statements mean, but I'm an anthropologist and I know that people are greatly shaped by the culture they live in. Just because a book says that someone has a "worm-tongue" doesn't necessarily mean that they speak bad things. It could mean they literally have a tongue like a worm, or maybe they ate worms when they were a kid. You simply never know. I like to write the 'what if' and the in-between; gently confusing what you know to be true with what could be true and thus, altering the way you see something. I like to make people question what could be true.
What's fictional revisionism?
Believe it or not, a large amount of revisionist authors exist and never even know it! Why? Because in literature, revisionism is simply a retelling of a story with alterations to characters and plot so that the old story is in many ways different than the first. Sound familiar? Think about all of the re-tellings of fairy tales that have been coming out lately. Beastly, Gnomeo and Juliet, Red Riding Hood, Thor...need I say more? Besides the ambiguous biblical figures that I use in my work (which may or may not be fairy tales in themselves) I also like to retell fairy tales. I am currently working on two re-tellings of fairy tales, so I guess that makes me a revisionist doesn't it?
Does that answer you questions? I hope so!
Next Week: Why fairy tales have once again become prominent and why people are re-telling them!