Redefining the Margins: Intertextual and Secondary Characters in Children’s historical novels.


The historical novel for children is the kind of Literature that transmits to young readers the historical knowledge in a pleasant and easy way, thanks to its entertaining and recreational character. The fictional heroes in most children's historical novels are social examples for the young readers, who adopt behaviors and motivations through observation. Additionally, the postmodern attestation of History as narration, with the appointment of microhistory - which is favored when the psychography of fictional heroes is on the forthground and when historical facts are interpreted from different perspectives and under various visual angles - spur many writers to provide marginal characters with space as well as speech.

Bearing in mind that the byzantine era is a common subject in Children’s Literature and contemporary novelists try to educate children and at the same time bring out  Byzantium's charm either by highlighting neglected historic events or by examining already known faces and facts from a fresh angle  and given the fact that the concept of intertextuality in literature is a way to build up interpretive communities among young readers, this paper examines Greek writer’s, Penelope Maximos, five historical novels for children entitled as In the years of Alexios Komninos, (Stochastis, 1984), The first crusaders in Byzantium; 1096-1099 AD (Stochastis, 1989), Emmanouil Komninos. The knight emperor (Stochastis, 1990), The downfall of Thessaloniki. In the years of Andronikos Komninos (Stochastis,  1987) and  Close to Athenais (Astir, 1972). More specifically, we will focus on the way Maximos attempted to make “visible” fictional characters  who were until recently considered of less or least importance; Minors and adults who were being oppresed during the Byzantine era, such as slaves, suddenly become protagonists surrounding historic characters and, thanks to their presence, make the plot roll smoothly. In this paper will be also pointed out the way the writer chose to present to young readers female characters and their efforts not only to express their emotions freely, but also to interfere with Byzantine society and fight for their rights, in order to point out to the juvenile readers paths, thoughts and life idealism.

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