The scholarly community is naturally ambivalant about the fictionizaton or dramatization of history. Dedicated to citing facts for every statement, scholars have a natural suspicion of an art form invading what they like to make, as far as possible, a scientific study. Yet no scholar who is a humanist (as every scholar should be) should forget that much of literature from the Greek dramatists through Shakespeare and Tolstoy to the present--has been created by the fictionalization or dramatization of history.
Those concerned with popular education must realize that most people are not susceptible to any dry scholarship. However, a history book that is well written can reach and persuade a large audience.
There is probably no scholar so withdrawn from the world that he would exclude all historical subject matter from dramatic presentation. The bind comes on the question of how far an historian should recognize and countenance the givens of dramatic form. There is no lack of scholars who believe that actors, accurately costumed for their period, should speak in paragraphs that could have been extracted from a learned journal. But such "dialogue," of course, could not be true to life or art.
Dramatic presentation must be in true dramatic form. It is obscurantism not to recognize that the means of the theatre are very different from those of the scholar's study or the printed page. Individual human beings move before the viewer, and thus action has to be presented in terms of personalities. These personalities cannot be abstractions. Any generalization has to be translated into the specific before it can be put on the stage. The appeal cannot be only to the intellect; it must also address the emotions. Nothing may appear before the viewer which the playwright cannot make convincing as an instantanous sensuous experience. And, furthermore, the theatre has its own tools that do not fit at all into the historian's hands: light as a physical entity; silence as a force in its own right; the impact of the actual physical presence of people and