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Imagination and history can be a confluence of literary beauty

Frank Coughlan


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Edith Somerville, who is the subject of Martina Devlin's new novel. Edith. Photo: Getty Images

Edith Somerville, who is the subject of Martina Devlin's new novel. Edith. Photo: Getty Images

Edith Somerville, who is the subject of Martina Devlin's new novel. Edith. Photo: Getty Images

Literary fiction and historical facts have an uneasy relationship that dates way back. Historians, who take their discipline exceedingly seriously, can often be sniffy at how authors weave an imagined past into the fabric of something nominally authentic.

It distorts the truth, they claim, and tends to elevate heroic myth over more complex reality. Not that academic historiography is a totally dependable guide either.


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