Tammy's All Things History

Bringing the Past to Life!



History on Saturday: The Necklace (1884)

Antique Diamond Necklace

The Necklace is a short story by French nineteenth-century Naturalist author, Guy De Maupassant. He was considered to be a naturalist because he wrote stories about things he saw in everyday life as it happened. It is a fascinating read because it invokes imagination. When I read it, I am transported directly to the past. His window offers insight into society at the time of the late nineteenth century, and it becomes real clear how different our modern-day is compared to his own. (1)

There are a few translations of the story, originally printed in French. I like this version the best. Some versions I think take away from the past and add too much of a present day theme. The present day theme changes the perception of the story and that can harm the interpretation of history. It might be better for others to interpret for themselves so they can relate it to modern times. I guess it is a preference.

I am kind of biased, as well. When I go to museums or historical sites as a fan I tend to imagine what life was like for the people of the time the artifacts were held in. I want to ask a lot of questions of the past so I can formulate my own ideas about life in general and ponder the changes over a vast amount of time. I guess you could say my niche is social history. Others who like other forms of history may find something else in the story told by Maupassant. That is what make history so exciting and interesting especially when integrated with literature of the past. It weaves many paths of discovery to choose and leads to more curiosities.

What is your favorite literature piece and why? What path did the piece lead you on?

(1) Edgar V. Roberts and Henry E. Jacobs, Literature: An Introduction to Reading and Writing (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2001), 3-10.

What are you reading?

BooksWhat are you currently reading about history?

My Summer Reading 2012

History revisited-I indulged Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, a re-print from Dover Thrift Editions. It was coincidental for me because weeks earlier in one of my LinkedIn groups a fellow history enthusiast mentioned the latest trend of re-printing old history books. I had not of heard of this trend before and as I read the updated forward in the book, the re-printing confession caught my attention. The reason I wanted to read The Jungle was because it was mentioned in my reading of the,  The Family which also sparked my curiosity for two of my other blogs, The Black Buffers and the Washington DC riots of 1968.

 The Jungle, is what the newest introduction claimed that Sinclair’s subject matter came from Muckraking. A Muckraker was what a person was called when they exposed hidden atrocities through the use of media. It’s not the first time I have been exposed to muckraking. The industrial age in which this book was written, is full of media rhetoric that causes shock and awe. Just as I also found in researching of the Loray Mill Strike of 1929 in books that were penned after the strike ended to air truths not heard during the turmoil for fear of further retribution from social elite. It seems to me that the muckraking and media hype all fueled the socialism and red (communism) threat that would plague Americans for decades into the future. If you like drama and the darker periods in American history, I would definitely recommend reading this book and with a little sleuthing will bring much more, so much more where this book came from. Muckraking reached all Americans and was not partial to any particular ethnic group or race. Everyone felt it one way or another.

Today the economy is so bad after ten years of foreign war, outsourcing of business, loss of jobs, and wedges drawn heavily between wealth and poverty. In the early 1900’s America faced the same thing but with a less sympathetic ear from those in society able to help. I would bore those around myself to repeat the often too much said phrase of, “history repeats itself”, as similarities can be seen today. Rather, what is more fascinating to me is that in my studies and readings of history, topics seem to come back again and again. It is rewarding to see this as pictures become clearer and results in a greater understanding of the world in general. To me, this is the most important part.

The second book I read is Jesse Ventura’s, American ConspiraciesOriginally I had purchased the book as a gift for my husband who is intrigued by the stories. Soon after, being bored, I picked it up to read and see what it was all about. I am not into conspiracy theories so much but love the history they tell. Jesse mentions in his introduction of the topics of the book and how he was bored flying in planes going to speaking and other engagements. As a result of this he took up reading as a new hobby. His readings coincidentally brought him to a topic of interest: President Kennedy’s assassination. He was so intrigued by the first book that he continued to read anything he could get his hands on about the subject. As a result of his studies he formulated a question about the similarities of other prominent leaders’ assassination during the 1960’s. I do the same thing. As I read I encounter more interesting topics to learn about. Topics such as the Knights of the Golden Circle, a civil war spy group and Major General Smedley Butler, whom he mentions in passing conversations. I look forward to more readings from Jesse. I take the conspiracies with a grain of salt. Historians need factual evidence of things that happen to be valid and worth study or mention just as a scientist needs proof from their experiments to validate their research. In the future maybe Jesse’s ideas will be ones for the history books; proven and true.

My third and final book of summer reading (I am a slow reader) is Martha: The life of Martha Mitchell, by Winzola McLendon. This book is a used one and rough around the edges. I love used books! I was interested in Martha’s story after reading The Georgetown Ladies’ Social Club by C. David Heymann and doing further research on Katherine Graham for a paper in college. These two books are chalk full of history and what it was like to live and exist closely to the Watergate scandal in the early 1970’s. When I read books such as these, I can imagine life and how people were in a time when I was very little and my world revolved around play time and toys. The books bring to life many forgotten players both popular and long forgotten. From there other curiosities are perked and trails to explore come into focus.

Dancing around historic timelines can be daunting at times but it is important to be exposed to as much of it as can be. The past often is brought up again and again as people like to reference it, to understand the present and gauge the future. After a while being able to recall the information brings with it better understanding and can lead to interesting discussions with others.

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