Historical Novels

Guest Essay by Richard Singer

A social state is any state of affairs involving an interrelated group of persons over some period of time. The group may vary in size from several people to all of humanity. If academic philosophy was at all concerned with a broader concept of knowing then the role of literature in our understanding of various social states of the world would be a major concern of epistemology. However most philosophers focus on a specialized concept of knowing, namely on the kind of knowledge that can be expressed in propositions that can be considered as true or false, and the only part of academic philosophy that seems concerned with literature is aesthetics. Thus philosophers tend to focus on the philosophy of history and the social sciences when they analyze reliable sources of knowledge about the social aspects of the world. However understanding social and cultural aspects of the world involves more than knowing information. A perspective that involves a broader concept of knowing is the only sound way to understand how a person comes to learn such aspects and what it means to learn them. This broader concept includes a kind of knowing that I call know-with.

One way of knowing a state is through direct participation. Of course this often gives a narrow perspective. For breadth, direct participation can be augmented by observation. However observation tends to focus on information that rather than the broader aspects of knowing. Vicarious experience is another way to enhance these broader aspects. Stories can provide this kind of experience in a condensed manner that can sometimes far outstrip the scope of direct experience or observation. In fact this broader knowing component of historical understanding cannot come through direct participation. Historical fiction can provide some of the vicarious experience that will enhance such an understanding of a historical time period. This paper will provide one conceptualization of the kinds of parameters that can be used to think about the role a historical fiction can take in this process. These parameters are intended to help think about epistemic rather than literary considerations.

In my initial attempt to formulate these parameters I treat them as one dimensional, as if they could vary from high to low or from positive to negative. Thus in the authenticity parameter to be described shortly, I talk as if a story could vary from being highly authentic to highly inauthentic. This is clearly an over-simplification. It might be authentic in terms of social customs or in the characteristics of a historical person but inauthentic in terms of certain historical facts. A more adequate conceptualization would formulate this parameter to allow for such complexities. For example I think the film “Brave Heart” was authentic in many ways, but the romantic attraction between the English queen towards Wallace strikes me as inauthentic. It think it was included primarily for theatrical reasons, and poor ones at that.

Historical Fiction Historical fiction is fiction which is set in the author’s version of some period in the past for which the author could consult some well established historical information and where at least part of this comes from materials written during or shortly after this period. This would not include pre-historical novels such as “Clan of the Cave Bear”. I have chosen to conceptualize five parameters that I find relevant for thinking about the role historical fiction can play in knowing-with social states.

Parameters: authenticity, richness, integration, unfolding, relevance

After presenting the parameters I illustrate them using a historical novel: “The Circle of Ceridwen” by Octavia Randolph. I use this novel in relating these parameters to the know-with concept. It is the extent to which Octavia has smoothly meshed the story and the picture of Anglo-Saxon England that most impresses me. I cannot recall reading a historical novel so rich in perspective in which this was done so well. Further I will take this as my paradigm case of what I conceptualize as a know-with historical novel, that is an authentic well integrated rich historical novel in which the crucial unfolding is excellent and the relevance appropriate.

Authenticity Historical fiction is often merely used as a convenience for telling a story in some fanciful setting. Anything will be invented to serve the story telling purpose, including facts that clearly violate well established historical information. For example the TV heroine Xena is able is able to interact with both Helen of Troy and Julius Caesar. The fact that this occurs in different episodes does little to mitigate the lack of authenticity of this TV series. However being authentic is not relevant to the purposes of the story. An authentic historical novel is one in which the author’s version of the novel’s setting involves a serious attempt to understand the historical period in which the novel is set and to be faithful to this understanding. This does not mean that faithfulness is achieved. Even well researched aspects of the period can be erroneous, and facts can be disputable. To write an authentic novel the author must take as much care to be as accurate as can be reasonably expected given the information available. Furthermore when the author goes beyond the information available, this should be acknowledged and explained.

Example Many modern scholars think that Shakespeare’s “Richard III” lacks authenticity, that many of its features are there primarily because they paint a negative picture of the losing side in the War of the Roses. In particular it paints Richard as an evil murderer. While this does not negate the literary quality of the play, it does prevent the play from directly enhancing our knowing Richard. On the other hand there are a number of modern novels that give an entirely different picture. “The Tudor Rose” by Margaret Barnes makes a serious attempt to understand the complexities of Richard and the events of this time period.

Richness A novel is rich to the extent to which appropriate background is brought into the story. In the case of a historical novel a large part of the background is the culture and life of the historical period in which the novel is set. In a rich historical novel I would almost feel that I am living in that time period.

Integration A novel is integrated to the extent that story and characters and background supplement each other in such a way that the readers attention stays on the story while at the same time absorbing a perspective on the background. Even in a novel that is highly authentic and rich I sometime feel that descriptions of the characters and background gets in the way of the story, and I find myself skipping on to the story. This would not be the case in a well-integrated novel. To say that a novel flows for a reader means that it seems so well-integrated that the reader never feels that the story is being interrupted.

Unfolding Treated well, a story unfolds with the reader’s focus primarily on the present but implicitly directed to the future. To evaluate a story as unfolding well means that the future holds some mystery and unfolds in some directions that are not anticipated from the past. However whatever happens follows reasonably from what has happened, what is in character, what could plausibly happen.

Relevance A novel is relevant for a particular reader to the extent that it deals well with concerns that this reader finds significant.

Attributes versus Relations The authenticity and richness parameters are conceptualized as attributes of a novel. This means that a novel’s authenticity and richness is independent of any relationship to a reader.

On the other hand, the relevance parameter is conceptualized as relations between a novel and a particular reader. What one reader finds as a significant concern may seem of little significance to another. Thus to say that a novel is relevant without some understanding of to whom, makes as little sense as saying that “the monkey is hanging from” without saying from what. Of course an understanding of ‘to whom’ could be implicit rather than explicit. Depending on context, I could say that a novel is highly relevant as a short way of saying that it is highly relevant to most of the people who have read it or I might mean that it has attributes that would be likely relevant to almost anybody.

The unfolding parameter is also conceived of as relations between the novel and a particular reader. However this may not be as apparent since a novel that unfolds well for the average reader is likely to also unfold well for most readers. A similar remark applies to the integration parameter.

Illustrating The Parameters For analytic purposes I illustrate most of the parameters separately. This is artificial and does not indicate the extent to which they are woven together.

Authenticity One way to judge the level of authenticity is to compare what is in the novel to what is given in other sources. However authenticity can also be judged to the extent authors attend to this parameter and general level of competence the author exhibits. An author who is concerned with authenticity may provide an afterwards with comments on any matters that may be questionable, giving a bibliography of sources used and explaining any choices made. An author who is competent will show internal consistency in dealing with the various aspects of the historical period.

Octavia’s novel appears on her website (octavia.net) with materials that indicate a high attention to authenticity. In particular click on how I wrote this book and see her comments on veracity. A major sign of authenticity is the richness of detail in the novel itself about the traditions and practices of the period in which the novel takes place. An author unconcerned with authenticity would probably not integrate so much about these matters into the story. Directly related to the book is a glossary of terms, a page on how to pronounce names, and an extensive bibliography which is supplemented by suggested readings which discusses some of her sources. In addition her website itself contains a wealth of information about the Anglo-Saxons and the Danes.

Richness and Integration In Octavia’s book the strength of these parameters is so apparent from the very beginning that I feel anything I say will not do them justice. Nevertheless I will make some comments on my reactions as to the first chapter.

In the first paragraph my attention is caught immediately by Ceridwen’s account of what happened to her father, and how this was the first episode that would have a major impact on the story of her life. It was only on going back that I realized that this short episode also had given me a concise picture of what it was like to be an Anglo-Saxon ealdorman on the Welsh border. In essence this is a simple case of a short paragraph, rich for its size, with the richness integrated in such a way that my attention stays primarily on the episode while at the same time I begin knowing with this remote culture.

The next paragraph takes me just far enough into Ceridwen’s story to keep me interested. All that happens is that Ceridwen at age two comes to live her father’s brother Cedd as if she is daughter and that Cedd’s wife died earlier and that Ceridwen lived with him until she was nine. I also get a brief glimpse about some mystery about Ceridwen’s mother and recall this being also mentioned in the first paragraph. Richly integrated with this bit of story is a further picture of her society. I hear of ceorls, cottars, slaves, a hall of upright timber, a great oak table, giving gifts, etc. In the rest of this chapter Ceridwen completes this phase of her life and in the process, without being explicitly aware of it, I have had a wealth of experience in vicariously living in the confines of one small segment of her culture.

One of the major aspects of richness for me in this novel is the extent to which I feel a contrast between the Anglo-Saxon and Danish culture. This has resulted from a major theme that has been slowly developing in most of the first 34 chapters and is exemplified through character development. Ceridwen begins with the typical attitudes one might expect from accounts of the Vikings told from the perspective of those who were invaded. Her stereotypical attitude changes in a way that seems realistic as her personal interaction with Sidroc challenges these attitudes. Having Ceridwen with a partially Celtic heritage is a nice touch. However what is most interesting is the character of Sidroc, which Octavia has so well developed. It is clear from their first encounter that he does not fit Ceridwen’s expectations that were earlier reinforced by Toki (having Toki be her first encounter with a Dane enhances the effect of her struggle about how to regard Sidroc). Sidroc while a warrior and invader, and even a plunderer, is also a man who reasons. He comes from a land too poor to support his ambitions. All this emerges smoothly integrated as the story unfolds. Here I find my paradigm case of richness blended with integration.

Unfolding With some novels events happen “out of the blue”. A more common defect is that a reader already knows that X is going to happen and must just wait around until it does. This is seldom the case in this novel. The chapter “Everything Changes” came as a surprise to me, but not as an artificial one. Octavia has prepared her readers for this, so that although they would not anticipate it, when it happens it fits perfectly into the story. I have yet to encounter a story which seems better to me in regards to unfolding of the major events. It is only near the end of the novel that the unfolding seems weak, but then only in terms of the events. I suspect this is because Octavia has little interest in the ending and is already thinking about developments in the sequel she is planning.

While I did not anticipate Gyric appearing as a prisoner, when it happens it fits smoothly into the story. From earlier conversations we learn that he is involved in the conflict between the Danes and Saxons, and Yrling’s involvement in a problem involving other Danes provide a natural means of bringing Gyric into the action.

The chapter “Everything Changes” is aptly named.. Ælfwyn and Ceridwen are gradually evolving new attitudes as they adapt to their life at Four Stones. It is clear that this might now change. Gyric’s capture might affect their attitudes, but if they can help him escape without being suspected perhaps their lives can return to its present course. At first the suspense is about being caught. Again I do not anticipate Gyric’s mutilation and resulting blindness and despair, but it fits smoothly into the story. Given Ceridwen’s characteristics as a person it is clear that her circumstances will now be radically altered.

I do not know how to comment on the two stage revelation of what happened to Gyric, except to say that I strongly endorse the way it was done. It just somehow seems to fit, perhaps touching some of my fundamental feeling about how the deepest types of personal distress often emerge. In relationship to Ceridwen what happened to Gyric is a counterpoint to her evolving tendency to think in personal rather than categorical terms. She has begun to think of Sidroc more as a person than as a Dane. Will she be able to continue developing such a perspective? While Sidroc was not involved in Gyric’s mutilation, he does not seem to be bothered by leaving Gyric in extremely inhumane conditions.

When Ceridwen first discovers Gyric and his condition there is no hint that any relationship will ever develop between them. It is as if his presence is inserted into the story as a shocking event which changes the course of events in her life and will completely alter what can ever happen between Ælfwyn and Gyric. However my first reactions are much more on the horror of what has happened to him than the effect on the lives of Ceridwen and Ælfwyn.

On learning that the prisoner is Gyric, and prior to knowing his condition, that Ceridwen and Ælfwyn would decide to help Gyric escape seems obvious. The surprise comes to them and to me in knowing his condition. However, while not anticipated, looking back on previous events and knowing the characteristics of the Danes, his condition fits naturally into the story. This is a natural turning point in Ceridwen’s life. Given the kind of person Ceridwen is, her decision to rescue him at whatever personal cost is true to her character. At first the most apparent feeling on her part towards Gyric is compassion and concern for his condition and wellbeing. His initial reaction to her is wonder. He feels gratitude, but there is also the possibility that he may hate her for not letting him die. The bond between them grows slowly, forged by who they are and the situations they encounter.

The bond that develops is left unarticulated. As they come nearer to Kilton, Ceridwen wonders if she will no longer be of use to him. She is conscious of their status difference. She seems totally unaware that Gyric now loves her. He cannot reveal his love because he no longer feels that he is what he is. At this time I feel they will come together (after all I know the title of the sequel). But will they come together in this present novel or must they first be separated? If they come together how will the gap that separates them be bridged. This is the second main unfolding in the story, and it happens in the lake. The unfolding is believable and it occurs at a moment that is right for it.

Relevance There are a number of themes within the novel that give it a high level of relevance for me. There are relationships that develop: the friendship between Ælfwyn and Ceridwen, love between Gyric and Ceridwen and her acceptance by family, and much more. There are the basic emotions of fear, anger, hatred, desire for revenge. There are beliefs and attitudes. Of course it is not the existence of these themes but the way in which they develop and unfold and are integrated into the story that allows me to experience their relevance. Thus my comments on the unfolding Of Gyric’s and Ceridwen’s love can also be taken as comments on why I find relevance in the novel. A love relationship dealt with in ways that do not seem authentic would have little relevance for me.

Another theme that is developed in a way that I find relevant is the theme revolving around the idea of friends and enemies. Who is an enemy? Since I do not think of any one as my enemy, my concept of an enemy is somewhat remote. Furthermore it is a concept that I do not think is very useful. On the other hand my concept of a friend has highly manifest components and is rich and useful. Why then do I find the theme of friends and enemies, rather than just the theme of friendship, highly relevant? I think it is largely because the existence of enemies is such a pervasive part of human experience. Why is this so? Is this necessary? Is it useful? Why am I immune? To what extent is the existence of enemies due to irreconcilable differences in interests and value? To what extent is it due to inadequate conceptual nets and to inadequate types of experience?

I do not conceptualize friend and enemy as opposites. Thus the only way I can think clearly about enemies is to use tools I have developed as a conceptual philosopher. Many people seem to use an enemy concept which they apply to persons using categorical criteria. The is the case with Ceridwen and Ælfwyn. The Danes are their enemies. This works easily at first, since it is Toki who comes to meet them. Since Yrling is not there when they arrive at Four Stones, this initially reinforces their judgment. It is only when Ceridwen must confront her attitude toward Sidroc that this categorical assumption about enemies is challenged. It also soon seems that Yrling’s treatment of them also does not appear to be that of an enemy. How can Sidroc and Yrling be Danes and not be enemies? The answer I would give is simple, but it involves more work than making categorical judgments. Use an enemy concept that is personal. It seems that Ceridwen is implicitly beginning to think with a more personal concept like the one below.

A person X is an enemy of a person Y at time T


At T, X deliberately takes (or is likely to take) destructive action against something Y values highly.

However even this personal concept of an enemy has pitfalls. Y may not realize that X being an enemy of Y is a relationship of X to Y rather than an attribute of X. Furthermore Y may fail to realize that the enemy relationship is not automatically symmetric. Also it is easy to forget having X be an enemy is a temporal state. “Once an enemy always an enemy” is not conceptually accurate. And someone who is a friend can become an enemy. How will Ælfwyn’s relate to Yrling if he decides to act against her family? It is the complexity of this theme and its many nuances that makes its treatment in the novel seem so highly relevant to me.

In the novel we experience the extreme in the attitude towards enemies, torture and mutilation and later revenge. Gyric’s eyes were removed by searing heat which also disfigured him, and this was done to him by other people. The significance I find in such an event as a feature in a novel and in its relationship to the human condition is profound. Humans are born helpless and remain for years highly dependent on others. Even when relative security and some independence is obtained, vulnerability remains. Fear is never far away. Some people use this potential for fear in others to obtain an illusion of safety. Fill your enemies with so much fear they will be unwilling or unable to strike back. I have given much thought to this, however it is not any remote knowing which provides the understanding I need. It is being immersed vicariously in it that brings vividly into focus what for me seems the essence of this extreme form of conflict between human beings.

As a further thought on the relevance of extreme enmity, I include a response from Octavia to some of my comments on the utter inhumanity of the mutilation of those times. Clearly this theme is an important one to the author.

You may be aware that this was a fairly common method to render aristocratic opponents useless. A few generations later, Harold “Harefoot” (reigned 1035) son of the brutal Cnut, put out the eyes of King Alfred’s direct descendent (also named Alfred) in just this manner, after luring him back to England under the premise of parly under safe conduct. (In this case it was done in such a way that the young man actually died.) Harold further cut off the hands and noses of 600 of Alfred’s retainers, leaving them alive but obviously in the worst of possible distress. It is hard indeed to contemplate the fate of these young men; and history does not record it. I think most of them probably chose death for themselves rather than continue living as they were left. Did any seek the shelter of the Church as refuge from such a society? Again, we have no way of knowing…

Near the end of the book we find a typical response to torture and mutilation: revenge. Merely examine the extent to which this theme contrasts to the warm loving relation within Gyric’s family.

One way in which I find the setting of this book relevant may not apply to a wide audience. However since it is the aspect of the novel that I find most relevant, I will make some comments about the setting. Its setting is in the period in which a broad cultural paradigm shift is in its last stages. I am referring to the shift from polytheism to monotheism. This shift begins over a thousand years earlier and then its christian version slowly spread through the Roman Empire. Beginning in the 6th century Christianity became the major unifying force in Europe. The Anglo-Saxons have been largely converted, but the Danes look on these beliefs with disdain. Yet it will not be long before the gods of the Danes will give way and the christian cosmic version will hold sway throughout Europe.

This conflict between two cosmic versions can be experienced in the relationship between Ceridwen and Sidroc, but also in Ceridwen’s own upbringing. Recall that her christian education is grafted on a more pagan childhood. This conflict between two cosmic versions is so well integrated into the story that it was only on reflection that I realized it as one of the main reasons I found the novel so highly relevant. While King Alfred appears only near the end of the novel, his presence is felt much earlier. I come to sense that the conflict between Alfred and the Danes is not merely about political or economic power. The Danes may see it primarily as involving wealth and power, but from Alfred’s perspective it involves a cosmic version and the place we have in the universe because of it. The monotheistic version he holds will ultimately provides a social glue that a polytheistic version cannot provide. Octavia does not tell us this but she lets us live with it. I suspect this will also be even more apparent in the sequel.

Octavia’s novel gives a glimpse of the final phase of the shift from polytheism to a christian version of monotheism. This shift also takes place somewhat earlier in parts of Asia and northern Africa with the advances of Islam. Today it is hard to find anything but traces of polytheism thruout the world. One of the reasons I find the shift from polytheism to monotheism so interesting is because it is a paradigm shift in a which a major cosmic version was totally displaced by another cosmic version throughout most of the world. Furthermore it is the only such shift to take place during a historical period. Any other shifts of this magnitude, such a shift from animism to polytheism, took place prior to written records. In the west monotheistic versions remained basically unchallenged until a physicalistic cosmic version begins to have influence in the 18th century. However while the physicalistic cosmic version has been adopted by an influential minority, and while this may be one of the reasons for the secular nature of modern society, such a version is not currently accepted by most people, nor has it demonstrated the ability to provide the foundation for the kind of basic values that can hold a culture together.

Know-With My reason for illustrating these parameters was epistemic, intended primarily as tool for developing a broad kind of knowing concept. I call this the ‘know-with’ concept because it is the kind of broad knowing that can only be acquired by directly or vicariously living with or within some situation. In particular I have developed the concept of a know-with historical novel to help clarify the broader concept of know-with. I have merely pointed to some aspects of “The Circle of Ceridwen” to partially clarify this concept. To really see this novels as a specific paradigm case of concept of a know-with historical novel, read the novel in its entirety.

My illustrations are not intended to do justice to quality of a novel. This is a task better left to another type of writer. I now turn to ways in which the parameters I have given might affect the quality of a person’s knowing with a historical period.

While a high level of authenticity is better for enhancing know-with, it is not absolutely necessary. Recall the way the authenticity parameter was conceptualized.

An authentic historical novel is one in which the author’s version of the novel’s setting involves a serious attempt to understand the historical period in which the novel is set and to be faithful to this understanding. This does not mean that faithfulness is achieved.

A novel could without serious attempt by the author be anywhere somewhat to faithful to the period. However to the extent that it lacks internal consistency, my knowing may not feel right and hence will seem less effective. On the other hand the internal consistency of Shakespeare’s inauthentic telling of “Richard III” provided me with my initial probably erroneous sense of knowing Richard. Still there was value in this, as it made my later knowing Richard more significant, and perhaps Shakespeare’s biased account of Richard’s character may contain a kernel of truth. Even if it does not, it at least reminds me that more modern accounts are also conjectural. As in more ordinary know-with, or any type of understanding, errors can be either an asset or a liability to a more adequate understanding. I am reminded of what William James said about the maximum of avoiding errors at all cost.

Our errors are surely not such awful solemn things. In a world where we are so certain to incur them in spite of all our caution, a certain lightness of heart seems healthier than this excessive nervousness on their behalf. from The Will To Believe Section VII

Lack of authenticity primarily affects our knowing the historical period. However other types of know- with can also occur, especially if a reader finds parts of the story highly relevant. Thus I find in “Richard III” an excellent means of knowing a lust for power and unbridled ambition. That this may be a distortion of the historical Richard’s characteristics affects my knowing him, but it does not affect my knowing the potential for such characteristics.

Whatever faithfulness a story has towards historical facts, know-with is not primarily about having the facts correct. It is about experiencing the culture as it is, and so it is faithfulness to the way people thought and to the way they acted that makes for valid know-with. That is why a historical novel may be better for many aspects of knowing than a chronicle. What happened may help us in knowing, but it does not have the power of living within the historical period that a know-with novel can provide. That a novel can only provide vicarious experience may seem like a limitation, but in a way this is also one of its main advantages over direct experience. Direct experience is usually permeated with divergent aspects, and it is often remarked how little we sometime learn from our experience. One of the reasons I have focused on the other parameters is in order to focus on their role in making vicarious experience sometimes more useful than direct experience for knowing certain states of affairs.

Suppose a novel is authentic but not very rich. Clearly this limits our knowing with the historical period, for there is little to know about the setting. However if what is shown flows and unfolds well for a reader, and if this also has relevance to the reader, knowing the period will occur to some extent. Of course other know-with can and should occur, and this may be of more value to some readers than historical know-with. However while a serious historical novelist is clearly interested in knowing many aspects of the human condition, choosing a historical setting means that one of the novelist’s main concerns is in knowing the historical setting. The greater the richness, the greater this potential.

In a sense authenticity and richness are the ingredients for know-with. The other parameters are what blend them into the readers experience. Unless a novel flows for a reader attention will lag and the richness will be poorly experienced. Lack of relevance is likely to have an even more detrimental affect. With unseemly unfolding the story will seem artificial. Thing that happen out of the blue will seem inauthentic to the reader’s experience, and this is likely to make the historical authenticity at least implicitly seem suspect.

This is not unlike the way direct experience relates to know-with. The key to such knowing is focus. Even a potentially rich experience may provide little know-with if it lacks relevance or if it is interrupted by too many distractions. On the other hand experiences which have smooth flow and appropriate unfolding and a high level of relevance allow the authenticity and richness to be experienced, and knowing to occur effortlessly. Last summer my granddaughter Angela and I spent several uninterrupted hours channeling the flow of our creek. We moved rocks and dug out sand and gravel. We communicated about how to make an S shaped channel, where and why we wanted a new channel, etc. I know that Angela and I work well together, that we had supplementary ideas about channeling, that she is a persistent ally. However no account of ‘knowing that’ can tell what I learned about Angela through this and other rich experiences with her. My knowledge of Angela is essentially the know-with type, and all my know-that information about her is feeble in comparison. Likewise while I can state a number of facts about our creek it is knowing with this creek that is the essence of my knowledge. I have difficulty imaging that any one could think of know-with as an accumulation of specific facts. However the tendency of many philosophers to focus on the know-that aspect of knowledge makes me wonder if that is not the way they would analyze know-with, that is if they even thought know-with was worth thinking about. This is merely one of many ways I find traditional epistemology unsuitable for my purposes, for I find know-with the primary way of learning through experience and know-that something that occurs by focusing on some very limited feature of know-with.

Paradigm Case Formulation I used “The Circle of Ceridwen” as a specific paradigm case of a know-with historical novel for me. I conclude with a general paradigm case formulation of a know-with historical novel. For a discussion of this way of formulating a concept, see “Persons Behavior and the World” by Mary Shideler. A know-with historical novel is a historical novel which is highly authentic and very rich in content about its period. To be a know-with historical novel for a particular reader, this reader will find the novel extremely well integrated, appropriately unfolding, and highly relevant. To be a know-with historical novel is to be a know-with historical novel for the majority of readers who are interested in the period in which the novel is set.

Allowable Transformations

A. Change highly authentic to somewhat authentic and for the most part faithful

B. Change very rich in content to having enough content to give some sense about the period

C. Remove any criteria for either integration or unfolding or weaken each somewhat

D. Change highly relevant to relevant enough to keep the reader interested

Non-Allowable Transformations

X. Weakening authenticity more than indicated in A

Y. Remove criteria for both integration and unfolding

Z. Remove all criteria for relevance


This essay is reprinted with permission from “My Net for Philosophy” by Richard Singer.

Richard Singer taught mathematics for at Webster University for 30 years,where he is now a Professor Emeritus. He is currently developing a variety of materials in conceptual studies, including materials for learning mathematics and a number of papers in an area he calls conceptual philosophy. He invites your comments on this essay at richardsinger3@sbcglobal.net.

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