Why Write Historical Fiction?: Background information when reading The Quality of Mercy

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The Quality of Mercy

A Novel

by Barry Unsworth

The Quality of Mercy
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  • First Published:
    Jan 2012, 336 pages
    Aug 2012, 336 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Jennifer G Wilder

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About this Book

Beyond the Book:
Why Write Historical Fiction?

What makes a writer turn to historical fiction? The task of creating a fictional world is hard enough, so why throw in the additional labor of intensive research and the mental calisthenics of imagining another time? Some of the genre's biggest names respond...

Barry Unsworth Before his death in June 2012, Barry Unsworth's literary imagination covered a broad territory in both time and space, from fourteenth-century England (Morality Play), to the end of the Ottoman Empire (Pascali's Island), to ancient Greece (The Songs of the Kings) and eighteenth-century England (The Quality of Mercy). Unsworth credited living in historically rich places like Greece and Turkey (and now Italy) with awakening his "wonder at the constant sense of continuity and connection" between past and present. In a 2008 interview with Littoral, he explains:

Nowadays I go to Britain relatively rarely and for short periods; in effect, I have become an expatriate. The result has been a certain loss of interest in ...

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