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Friday, March 11, 2011

Rudyard Kipling

"If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten."

English Novelist and Poet
1865 - 1936

Do you love history?  Do you read history?  Or could you care less about history?  Do you incorporate history into your writing and paintings?  I believe creative leaders need to study history?  Artists should study art history and many do.  Writers should study the lives of writers.  English degrees tend to focus on the literature and studying the literature.  Writing degrees tend to focus on the writing.  But few writers study the history of writing, the history of writers, the history of words or the history of publishing.  I have met many wanna-be poets who haven't even read other poets. They would never consider studying the history of poetry.

But understanding literature, art and theater requires more than studying the history of the arts.  We need to study literature, art and theater in the context of the times they were created.  We need to study the social, political and economic histories.  We need to read biographies and memoirs. 

Writers, artists and actors are people of their times.  They creative works contain the same beliefs, hopes and biases that can be found in the rest of their society.  Novels written in other times and places will teach you one perspective of that society.  Their paintings are minature history books.

So I encourage you to read a biography of a favorite writer, actor or artist.  Immerse yourself in the history of another time and place.  What was Paris like during the time of the Impressionists?  What was New York like during the 1950's and the beats?

One of my favorite movies is The Man Who Would Be King, starring Sean Connery and Michael Caine, directed by John Huston and based on the novel by Rudyard Kliping.  The movie takes us to another place and time and gives us a glimpse of a world not our own.  Here are some scenes from the movie.