Going Native with Celia May Hart
Don't forget Celia is giving away a copy of her new book, THE HAREM to one lucky poster!
That’s what you have to do to write a historical of any sort or description. Go native. I’ve been reading about the Hoydens going to primary sources...
But what if your primary sources are in a moldy library in
When I chose
There’s a phrase among readers that’s called “glomming” and that’s about the best way to “go native”, by immersing yourself into anything and everything you can find that belongs to that era. Primary, secondary, visual, audio, anything that will make the flavor of that time and place second nature. Do it until it comes out of your pores.
“White Mughals” by William Dalrymple, did that very nicely. He did the research in that
Kirkpatrick and other British men went native while at their posts, not just taking a bibi (which means “wife”, but to the men it meant “convenient woman to sleep with”, although to be fair, some did treat their bibis like their wife), but becoming deeply involved with the culture, the religion, the festivals. One of the hotly debated points in Dalrymple’s book is whether or not Kirkpatrick actually became a Muslim.
They dressed in the local style, kept local hours, attended the festival, took up the hookah. Remember Becky Sharpe sampling a chili in “Vanity Fair”? They grew accustomed to the foods. Most of it was due to political expediency and the importance of getting along with the local rulers.
Dalrymple didn’t just settle for these observations of how the British changed, but he examined the lifestyle of local aristocratic circles these men often moved in, including the culture surrounding the marriage of a young woman as well as festivals.
He even uses an Iranian visitor, Abdul Lateef Shushtari, to examine both sides. (The upper caste of
A good secondary source can also find you those primary sources that are accessible, as well as other secondary sources that might focus on a particular subject. Read the footnotes, read the bibliography, find other books. Historians can be notorious for disagreeing with each other, so make sure you get at least one alternative viewpoint in there. Find those primary sources, if you can, listen to the music, view their art and before you know it, you’ve “gone native”.
Welcome to the club!