Heroes and reality

Gill Othen gill at othen.fslife.co.uk
Mon Aug 4 06:20:47 EDT 2003

From: Robyn Starkey <rohina at shaw.ca>
Subject: Re: Heroes and reality

I'm not sure I agree with this, can you give an example of your
interpretation? I was thinking about how much psychological angst her heroes
seem to have.

Oh, they have angst in spades, but they also take for granted a variant on
theocracy, a monarchical system, an aristocratic structure of society, the
concept that the ultimate destination of a successful merchant will be the
aristocracy....... A lot of the psychological problems they have are also
linked to concepts such as divination, magic, alchemy, which are hardly part
of our world. The Dame de Doubtance could hardly have such an influence on a
real modern hero as she has on Francis.

>>The fact that Lymond recovers from multiple penetrating chest wounds *at
all* is highly unrealistic. <<

But such things did happen. Look at Federico de Montefeltro, who lost an eye
and half his face, yet was one of the most powerful condottiere of Italy
*after* that - and ran the court at Urbino that was the model of a
Renaissance court.

>>If that were the only miraculous recovery he has, it might be reasonable,
but he recovers from similarly serious
injuries a number of times. All this on top of a constitution which ought to
have been seriously damaged by his time as a galley slave. Niccolo is the
same but more so: hit by a windmill, hacked in the chest by an axe, to name
but two.<<

The number of times they recover may be a little suspect, but the fact of
each recovery is not particularly so - professional soldiers had to have
strong constitutions, after all.

>>I think some of the things they do are very suspect as renaissance men,
because the motivations they have are so highly individualistic.<<

You don't feel individualism was a feature of the Renaissance? Surely the
history of that period is littered with individuals who forged powerful
businesses and families? I don't think Bess of Hardwick lacked
individualism, to take a random example!

>>Don't get me wrong, I am not saying that I don't like the books - I do
enjoy them, and her research as far as material things and events is
concerned is impeccable.<<

I love the books, but I do recognise there is a strong fantasy element  -
and not just the influence of John Dee, Nostradamus and the Dame de
Doubtance. But I think she chose herperiods quite carefully as times of
change when a single individual could make a huge difference. Now if she'd
set them in the twelfth century I'd agree much more with you!


- --Boundary_(ID_0m4d0Ufne1rKkYlOlCzl5A)

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