I’ve just started reading The Revenant, a Novel of Revenge by Michael Punke. It recounts the story of Hugh Glass, a legendary mountain man/fur trapper who was horribly mauled by a grizzly bear and left for dead by his companions. Against all odds, he not only survived but dragged himself (literally) hundreds of miles, without food or resources to obtain it, to the nearest fort. Once recovered, he set out to find and confront those who had left him.
I’m writing a novel about the same time period, with some of the same characters, and have done quite a bit of research in order to make my book as historically accurate as I can. I am reading The Revenant to gain more perspective on the lifestyles of its characters and settings for the events. Boy, is it different! By page 51, I find major discrepancies between this author’s presentation of events and the historical information my sources give me.
It raises interesting questions about “literary license” in historical fiction. I find it disheartening that this book is being made into a major motion picture. Unless my research is wrong, the movie will be portraying erroneous information. Maybe it doesn’t matter much, since all the characters are long dead and the events are perhaps not very consequential at this point, but it still bothers me. People read historical novels and see historical movies, I think, to learn as well as be entertained. I know I do, and I want some reasonable diligence about the truth.