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The Historian- Discussion Guide   Tags: discussion_guide, historian, the_historianelizabeth_kostova  

Articles, questions, and reading suggestions for discussion groups and admirers of The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova.
Last Updated: Aug 28, 2012 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts
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Elizabeth Kostova

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The author's official website.

The author's biography via Contemporary Authors Online.

Articles, Interviews, and Reviews

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Further reading

For context, you might consider the following resources.

Cover Art
Vampire Secrets (DVD) - The History Channel
Call Number: 398.45 Vam
ISBN: 9780767098052

Cover Art
The Complete Vampire Companion - Rosemary Ellen Guiley
Call Number: 133.424 Gui
ISBN: 0671850245

Cover Art
Osman's Dream: A History of the Ottoman Empire - Caroline Finkel
Call Number: 956.1015 Fin
ISBN: 9780465023967


A Scene from Nosferatu (1922) directed by F.W. Murnau


Discussion Questions

(From the publisher)

1. In the "Note to the Reader," the narrator tells us, "There is a final resource to which I have resorted when necessary--the imagination." How does she use this resource in telling her story? Is it a resource to which the other historians in the book resort, as well?

2. The theme of mentors and disciples is an important one in the book. Who are the story's mentors, and in what sense is each a mentor? Who are the book's disciples?

3. Near the end of Chapter 4, Rossi says, "Human history's full of evil deeds, and maybe we ought to think of them with tears, not fascination." Does he follow his own advice? How does his attitude toward history evolve in the course of his own story?

4. In Chapter 5, Paul's friend Massimo asserts that in history, there are no small questions. What does he mean by this and how does this idea inform the book? Do you agree with his statement?

5. Helen and Paul come from very different worlds, although they share a passion for history. How have their upbringings differed? What factors have shaped each?

6. Throughout the book, anyone who finds an antique book with a dragon in the middle is exposed to some kind of danger. What does this danger consist of? Is it an external power, or do the characters bring it upon themselves?

7. Each of the characters is aware of some of the history being made in his or her own times. What are some of these real historical events, and why are they important to the story?

8. At the beginning of Chapter 1, Paul's daughter notes, "I had been raised in a world so sheltered that it makes my adult life in academia look positively adventurous." How does she change as a person in the course of her quest?

9. Helen's history is deeply intertwined with that of Dracula. In what ways are the two characters connected? Does she triumph over his legacy, or not?

10. In Chapter 73, Dracula states his credo: "History has taught us that the nature of man is evil, sublimely so." Do the characters and events of the novel prove or disprove this belief?


Recommended Reading

If you liked The Historian, you might enjoy the following novels.

This publication was supported in part by Federal Library Services and Technology Act funds, awarded to the New York State Library by the Federal Institute of Museum and Library Services.


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