The Remarkable Tale of Mary Anning: An Analysis of Remarkable Creatures and its Merit as Historical Fiction Novels can do more that simply tell stories. Novels can enhance or emphasize thoughts and ideas. They can excite a wide variety of emotions. They can be the product of imagination, or they can be influenced by historical fact. Whether or not the events in a novel are true is left entirely up to the author, but it is truly an incredible feat to take a piece of history and turn it into a work of fiction that is plausible and logical.
For our Senior Seminar, we have studied the aspects of fiction hat have a basis in historical fact. They do so by applying certain literary devices that are necessary to the historical fiction genre. The novel I chose to research and present on is entitled Remarkable Creatures, by Tracy Chevalier, author of Girl with a Pearl Earring and The Last Runaway. This work of historical fiction tells the story of Mary Anning, one of the first recognized female paleontologists whose discoveries changed many views on the world and how it began.
Remarkable Creatures is a biographical novel, as it concentrates on the experiences that Mary Anning had uring her lifetime, the people she meets, and the incidents that occur in her life. This essay will evaluate Chevalier’s work on the basis of its merit as historical fiction. Remarkable Creatures belongs in this category because it Chevalier implements the critical terms of the genre in numerous and intricate ways. I will use reliable secondary sources and class readings to promote the value of the text as historical fiction, and to analyze not only the text, but also the entire genre that the text represents.
I will first begin with a brief description of the literary devices that form the critical ramework of the historical fiction genre and how they are used in Remarkable Creatures. The first two elements are accessibility and the familiar. These two terms have an intertwined relationship. The familiar is the element in fiction that coincides with our own experiences, or emotions, and thus is recognizable as a part of human life. It is what the reader connects with on a personal level. It establishes intimate connections with emotional ties that vary from person to person and draws us into the world of the novel.
The familiar is applied to me as I read. I draw upon my ascination of fossils and the prehistoric eras of the world to make a personal connection with the novel. I once found a fossilized fish, Just like Mary Anning. It is related to the accessibility of the novel, which is the sense that we are drawn into the world of the novel with emotional ties. The novel is accessible to me due to my personal connection with the main character. Even though I do not know much about the period in which Remarkable Creatures takes place, it is accessible and familiar to me because of my personal and emotional connections to it.
The following three iterary devices are historicity, authenticity and the strange. The strange is the element in historical fiction that makes us believe that we have been transported to a new and unknown place. It is what excites us and brings out new thoughts because we have an intellectual basis with which to study. The strange is promoted by factual knowledge, rather than emotional appeal, and it is intensified by authenticity. The novel is authentic when it is based on research and knowledge about the period, places, events, and people that the text represents.