J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Lepore and Kamensky in Lexington, 6 Feb

And as long as I’ve been drawing on Prof. Jill Lepore’s recent New Yorker article about printers, I should mention that she and Prof. Jane Kamensky will discuss their historical novel Blindspot at the Lexington Depot on Friday, 6 February, at 8:00 P.M. This is part of the Cronin Lecture Series hosted by the Lexington Historical Society, and is free and open to all.

Here’s the Blindspot website, which has more information on the novel’s historical background. But be aware: these historians set out to write entertaining fiction, so they were actually making stuff up. They write:

Blindspot is a twenty-first century novel in eighteenth-century garb. It plays with the conventions of eighteenth-century novels, newspapers, portraits, and histories. It’s dripping with history; in fact, it’s something closer to a mock eighteenth-century novel than to a modern work of historical fiction. This, inevitably, raises questions, especially because we are history professors and, in our historical work, writing and teaching, we’re sticklers for accuracy.

Readers often ask us whether anything in Blindspot is true. People asked eighteenth-century novelists this question, too. Their answer? Yes and no. Novels look for a different kind of truth than history books, and Blindspot is a novel. Which is to say, we made it up. That was the whole point, and more than half the fun.
One character in the novel is based on James Otis, Jr. The fictional Samuel Bradstreet’s Rights of the British Colonies Demonstrated derives from Otis’s Rights of the British Colonies Asserted, with a crucial difference. In the novel, Bradstreet removes his critical comments on slavery and publishes them separately. In 1764, Otis left his comments in. Sometimes truth is more outrageous than fiction.


pilgrimchick said...

This may be something worth picking up--it has been a long time since I got a hold of some good fiction with a historical twist.

Trip said...

Hopefully people continue to attend the Cronin Lecture Series, it is named after my grandfather, Neil Cronin.