01 September 2011

Voices in the vibrating air...

history // (say 'histree), // (say 'histuhree)
1. the branch of knowledge dealing with past events.
2. the record of past events, especially in connection with humankind.
3. a continuous, systematic written narrative, in order of time, of past events as relating to a particular people, country, period, person, etc.
4. the aggregate of past events.
5. a past worthy of record or out of the ordinary:

Definition courtesy of our ever-helpful friends at Macquarie Online.


Ah, History at high school, I remember you. I remember struggling  from Mesopotamia, through the Vikings to early Australia and world wars and sinking ships. I remember making timelines and drawing maps, trying valiantly to find interest in the social, economical and political aspects of long dead lives, learning facts that oddly lodged forever in my memory - of King John signing the Magna Carta in a meadow in 1215, and the importance of the angles when the arrows were aimed in the Battle of Hastings in 1066.

But, History, do not be fooled. We were not friends in high school. And the first chance I had, I dumped you unceremoniously to pursue other more alluring interests. Never again, said I. Which I concede, in hindsight, may have been a little hasty.*

I wish I had stumbled onto a love of history a little earlier. I wish I had been able to to see it not as dry and dull facts and figures and timelines punctuated by an occasionally exciting angle of arrows, but, as Ruby Murray so eloquently writes, as: 'stories, the sound of the voices already dead but caught in the vibrating air..'

Ruby's wonderful post was inspired by her reading of India Dark by Kirsty Murray.**

Ruby says:
It's set in turn of the century India, and follows the lives of a group of child performers as they make their way across the dusty continent, dancing and singing over the clapped out stages of a crumbling colonial world. It's a brave book, with no sugar coating. But it's also a book that reminded me of the importance of writing history where it happens, outside of the normal tread and grind and cliche of historical record.

Hear! Hear! We concur. This is indeed something to celebrate. And celebrations for India Dark  are exactly what's in order. Delighted we are that it is a finalist in the NSW Premier's History Award Finalist for the Young People's History Prize.

Congratulations, Kirsty.  Here's to history in all its liveliness. Here's to wishing I had your books to read when I was in high school. Here's to bringing to life those voices already dead but caught in the vibrating air.

* Ahem. Hello, Bachelor of Arts in History & English.
** A hugely talented family all round, the Murrays!

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