Translating historical figures into literary characters: the challenge of writing 'They will remember us'

Gracia Mercadé, C (2021) Translating historical figures into literary characters: the challenge of writing 'They will remember us'. PhD thesis, Bath Spa University.

Abstract

This practice-based research is comprised of two strands. The first is an historical novel entitled 'They Will Remember Us', which fictionalises the relationship between the German writers Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich von Schiller. The second strand is a work of contextual research that explores the four main challenges that arose for me in the course of writing the novel. The first of these challenges has been the most personal: my own position as a writer who straddles three languages - Catalan, Spanish and English - in a context of social and political tensions between Spain and Catalonia. The second challenge concerns the translation of real authors into characters. To address this, I explore the techniques through which Penelope Fitzgerald, Helen Dunmore, Christopher Nicholson and Maggie Gee create fiction about real authors. In the process, I delve into my own motivations and methods for doing this. The third and fourth challenges arise from the difficulties of ensuring my novel has enough conflict and tension to sustain the reader's attention, while at the same time skirting the problematic boundary between fiction and historical fact. I utilise three main strategies to achieve this: the introduction of multiple voices, the addition of different time lines in the plot, and the use of figurative language and images. I offer this novel and critical work as part of a growing conversation between writers, and, I hope, to elaborate upon and enrich the resources that are available to writers who may encounter similar challenges in their practice or circumstances.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: creative practice based, creative writing, historical fiction, Spanish language, Catalan language, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Friedrich von Schiller, biographical writing, Penelope Fitzgerald, Helen Dunmore, Christopher Nicholson, Maggie Gee
Divisions: School of Creative Industries
Date Deposited: 30 Sep 2021 16:58
Last Modified: 30 Sep 2021 16:58
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