Do fictional situations influence nonfictional situations, or vice versa?
John Le Carré’s
The Spy Who Came In from the Cold
and Tom Matthew’s “In From the Cold,” in
, June 5, 1989, pp. 52-57.
The Daughter of Time
and Deirdre Carmody’s “Richard III’s Reputation Is Offered a White Rose,” in
The New York Times
, July 29, 1983, p.B1 and B3.
Student pre-reading, debate.
-It is assumed a class set of each of these books is available and that students have read one of them.
-It is assumed the teacher has distributed copies of the articles two nights before the debate.
-Structure the debate as “Resolved: History influences authors and not vice versa.”
-Permit the class members to arrive at their own conclusion based on their reading and the debate.
-Emphasize point that historical circumstances, one way or another, are part of detective fiction; that this type of book is more than a puzzle. It is an imaginary construct of people, place, and time which may be said to reflect, and possibly influence, the reader’s reality.
Have students choose a well-known assassination, such as that of Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King,Jr., or John F. Kennedy. Appoint them the detective-in-the-case. They are to write their report of the steps by which they determined the guilt of the assassin, the evidence they presented to court, and the jury’s verdict.
When they have completed their story, ask them to write on a separate page how much of the actual circumstances they changed or modified and their reasoning for doing so.
(The stories, and their explanations, can be used as the basis for a follow-up lesson.)