Wednesday, April 09, 2008


Escapism is mental diversion by means of entertainment or recreation, as an "escape" from the perceived unpleasant aspects of daily stress. It can also be used as a term to define the actions people take to try to help relieve feelings of depression or general sadness. [from Wikpedia]

I have recently found myself reading a lot of historical fiction and despite some of the raw subject matter ranging from torture in 17th century France to the Nazi takeover in 20th century Germany I have found it to be almost escapist literature.

What does this say about our modern society when reading about people being thrown out of a plane over the River Plate in 1950 is more relaxing than reading our current newspapers?
With people being stomped and stabbed to death in our streets, and with the constant menace of terrorism reading about the terrible past becomes almost a pleasant diversion.
Historical note: Germany was awarded the 1936 Berlin Olympics before Hitler seized power while China was given Beijing 2008 with full knowledge of her human rights record.
Do you prefer historical thrillers, or do you enjoy modern drug and terror related thrillers?

My review of Death In Breslau will appear on Euro Crime in due course.


Blogger J. Kingston Pierce said...

I much prefer historical thrillers to contemporary ones. Not just because the history gives me a bit of necessary distance from the horror, but because in the historical stories I have the chance to learn something new about how the world and its people used to work. The past isn't always a pleasant place to visit, though.


7:23 AM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Thanks for your comment Jeff. Your right it's the distance that insulates us from the real horror, which isn't possible with contemporary thrillers.

12:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't particularly seek out historical crime fiction, but I have read some very good examples in the past couple of years. I also like contemporary novels, in particular those set in a remote (or any!) place, which exude a sense of place as well as the usual atmospherics and plot.

But, in answer to your question, give me a good book in preference to a newspaper, any day!

1:13 PM  

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