Random Thoughts on History and Culture

As you may have gathered from the range of subjects and genres covered in my Weekly Roundups so far, I have an eclectic mind (or you could say I’m just easily distracted.) While I am capable of pursuing extensive research or knuckling down to a substantial project, a lot of my writing, as I’m sure you’ve guessed, is a reaction to something I’ve seen or read. As not all of those pieces fit into the narrower categories, I’ve also created a category I’ve called Random Thoughts to which I would like to introduce you today.

I love history documentaries and several years ago I saw one that introduced me to Suleiman the Magnificent and Roxolana, the woman for whom he went against all tradition. It struck me that Suleiman was an exact contemporary of Henry VIII who also broke with tradition for the woman he loved. Yet, as I examine in Of Love and Power, while their actions were in complete contrast, it struck me that while cultures and customs vary, as people, we are all much the same.

Another documentary I came across explored the origins of the tale of the ‘Pied Piper of Hamlin’. I had always thought this story was inspired by the Children’s Crusade, but, as I relate in History Remade: The Children’s Crusade, I was surprised that the documentary made no mention of it and shocked when I found out why.

You might say I’m addicted to YouTube (you don’t want to know what my particular obsession is, but I also watch it for the documentaries and old movies, I swear.) It started small, as all addictions do, just watching a few ‘Top Ten’ shorts and the like before retiring to bed. (I’m a bit of a night owl.) However, as we all know, YouTube is a great purveyor of ‘alternative facts’ and pseudoscience, and one example I came across was the ‘Mandela Effect’, a concept, as I demonstrate in The Myth of the Mandela Effect, which can be easily debunked with a few facts and a modicum of logic.

I don’t just get a bee in my bonnet while sitting on the couch, you know. Sometimes it comes from a little light reading. Back when I was studying Popular Fiction as part of my writing course, I came across an exceptionally egregious example of contemporary ‘Regency Romance’ and became incensed at the depths to which this genre, which I had enjoyed so much as a teenager, had degenerated. I wrote extensively on the subject for my course and subsequently for my website. (Some of it ended up as book reviews on Goodreads.)

I toyed for a while with whether or not I should revisit the subject, wondering if what I wrote then would still be relevant to my readers. Perhaps the genre had moved on or lost its popularity since back then. But then along came Bridgerton and I realised my thoughts on the subject would still be relevant, so I laid them out in A Bridgerton Too Far.

If you have any friends who, like me, get bees in their bonnets about the strangest things, do share this roundup with them.

Your friends will be more than welcome to visit me at paulinemontagna.com.au and to sign up to my email list and get my Weekly Roundup directly into their inbox.

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