Those of us who were around during the 1970s might remember the chant of some critics, "the personal is political." While not true in the sense that such critics intended, I've come to believe that there is a certain amount of enduring truth in this chant. Case in point: my efforts at writing historical fiction.
I've been laboring for five years, off and on, at completing a historical novel with the working title The Vials of Wrath. This work is to be the first in a series of four or five novels exploring some of the titanic changes in the Western world since 1900. I've found that an approach that seems to be working currently is to look at historical events in the light of personal crises. Of the characters introduced so far, each wrestles with events that cause us to wonder, Is it me or is the world going crazy? In fact, there are personal upheavals that prefigure some of the events that were to shape the world in this most destructive of centuries.
I'll keep my readers up to date on how the work is going. I have two other projects underway at the same time, which may have priority, depending on circumstances. Still, I'd like to introduce some of the individuals who've captured my imagination:
* Wilhelm and Friedrich von dem Bruch, young Prussian officers who try to make sense of their brother's suicide, while struggling with their father's harsh morality.
* Egbert Pfeffer, a railroad worker who believes in the brotherhood of man, and who struggles to keep this belief in the face of storms that threaten to sink it forever.
* Martin Salzmann, a clergyman who wonders whether the values that have guided him through life are no longer relevant.
* Alexander Lavrentiyev, a Russian officer whose love of Mother Russia is at war with his belief that the government of Nicholas II has put the country on a path to disaster.
* Raoul Pagès, a French officer whose insider knowledge of his nation's strengths and weaknesses sets him at odds with the "conventional wisdom."
Other players will shortly make their entrance onto the stage. I must confess that my educator's mindset is making it difficult to keep the plot on track, without veering into the trackless wilderness of preachiness or didactic madness. I pledge to make the best effort possible.