lunedì 30 settembre 2013

Katherine Howe: between occult research and historical novels



She lives in Massachusetts. She has a degree in art history and philosophy from Columbia and began writing novels while working on her doctoral thesis at the American and New England Studies from Boston University.
She to escape from stress, decides to write a story about the settlers thought and opinions about witchcraft , their reaction to this dark and evil practice, even denouncing the unnecessary deaths of this fatal hunting, carried on mass hysteria .
The Howe’ family, a long time ago , settled in Essex County, Massachusetts, and in 1620, during the period of witch hunts, two her relatives were accused of sourcery: Elisabeth Proctor ( suspected ) and Elisabeth Howe ( sentenced to death).
Katherine Howe has conducted a lot of research on her historical novel. You can it reads easily because it is written so simple and effective way. The author has fascinations for the occult and so this reflected in her second literary effort .

But now talk her by the interview that I did to her.
I read The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, because your novel called me from the shelf, it was stronger than me and i remained happy when i finished reading it. I loved it. You’re inspired by the story of your family, to the process immediately by your ancestors?
Thank you so much for reading Physick Book, and for taking the time to write to me. I feel so privileged to have so many Italian readers, and am delighted to answer your questions.
I was inspired in part, as you say, by the story of my own family, though I was also drawn to writing about Salem witchcraft because it is such a unique and problematic period in American history. Witch trials in North America happened a full generation after they happened in England and Europe, and they make us question many of the fundamental principles that Americans value. We like to think that our culture values tolerance, and we like to believe that the legal and the just are the same. Salem forces us to confront how fragile our cultural values truly are. I was also very interested to think about how it felt to live four hundred years ago, in a wilderness very far away from home. I think that historical fiction, when done with attention and care, can go very far to invite readers into greater understanding of the past.
How do you start in front of these massacres of women, elderly, children, and men?
It’s very hard to write about suffering. In the case of Salem, nineteen people (mostly women, but some men too) were put to death by the state for a crime that we now hold to be imaginary. That’s a difficult fact to accept. However, I feel that continuing to think critically about events in the past is one way to honor the legacy of those who died. We have a tendency, at times, to romanticize the past, or to be nostalgic about the way we used to live. I think nostalgia is a mistake. I, for one, am grateful to live in a world where antibiotics can cure childhood diseases, where women can vote, where any person can speak his or her mind freely. I also find it worthwhile to think about what assumptions we hold today that will seem ludicrous to people living in the future. Remember, everyone who participated in putting people to death at Salem fervently believed they were doing the right thing.
Salem is famous for the stories about witches, between truth and imagination. How much did you have to study to collect the material for your book?
I spent several years studying and learning about witchcraft in North America and Europe before I felt prepared to write Le Figlie del Libro Perduto. As you say, Salem in particular is subject to both history and myth. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between the two. I spent quite a long period of time reading the actual court documents that survive from Salem, trying to understand the mental world of the people living during the 17th Century. I was very interested in the changing perception of witches in both history and popular culture. Italy has a similar legacy of complex feelings about witches, with its stories of “benandanti,” or night fliers, who used to be understood and white witches who would do battle against evil witches at night, but who in the face of interrogation by the Inquisition gradually morphed into being believed to be evil witches themselves. Historical understandings of witches change dramatically over time.
A little time ago I saw that, finally, the second book has released in Italy, too. I notice that you always talk about the world of the occult. Can you talk about the book and your approach to this world?
My second book, The House of Velvet and Glass, tells the story of a high society Boston family who has lately lost someone on the Titanic, and who must struggle with that loss in the face of the dawning 20th Century. I am very interested in periods of time wherein the popular understanding of reality is very different from the understanding we have today. In the 1910s, it was very common for people like my characters to visit spirit mediums in an attempt to communicate with the dead. My protagonist, Sibyl Allston, finds that she is able to see much more, and more different things, than she ever imagined while she tries to solve the mystery of her brother’s disappearance. My third book, titled Conversion, will be released in the US in summer 2014, and is a contemporary story that re-imagines The Crucible (a very famous American play about the Salem witch trials) in a contemporary Massachusetts prep school. It’s about teenage girls seized with fits of hysteria much like those that afflicted teenage girls at Salem 400 years ago. In fact, my new book is based on real events.

Katherine talks about her second book, “The House of velvet and crystal”and she anticipates to we the release of her third book: “Conversion ” . The author is happy to talk about her literary labors , and i thank you again so much for taking your time to answer my questions.


Italian version of the books by Katherine Howe

Articolo scritto per iltempolastoria.it

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