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Childhood and the ClassicsBritain and America, 1850-1965$
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Sheila Murnaghan and Deborah H. Roberts

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780199583478

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199583478.001.0001

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“Be a Roman Soldier”

“Be a Roman Soldier”

History, Historical Fiction, and National Identity

(p.131) 4 “Be a Roman Soldier”
Childhood and the Classics

Sheila Murnaghan

Deborah H. Roberts

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines historical fiction for children set in antiquity, taking note of the genre’s intermediate status as a source of historical information that also shares the fictionality of myth and solicits the modern reader’s identification with characters from a different era. The relationship between historical fiction and national identity is explored through American novels set in the Roman world. Compared to works by British authors like Rudyard Kipling, which use Roman Britain as a context for themes of British identity and imperialism, works for American children by Reuben Wells, Paul Anderson, and Caroline Dale Snedeker make the scenes of Roman history into versions of such American settings as the new world of colonial exploration, the frontier, and the homeland of World War I.

Keywords:   historical fiction, British Empire, American frontier, World War I, Rudyard Kipling, Reuben Wells, Caroline Dale Snedeker, Paul Anderson, Julius Caesar

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