Cave paintings, from 32,000 years ago, are one of the oldest forms of human expression and could be either a record of what prehistoric man caught on hunting trips, i.e. non-fiction, or alternately a story expressing what they would like to catch on future occasions, i.e. fiction. If cave art is ambiguous on this matter then cuneiform inscriptions which hold the earliest writings seem to have been initially for non-fiction.
Much of the non-fiction produced throughout history is of a mundane and everyday variety such as records and legal documents which were only ever seen by a few and are of little interest except to the historian. The non-fiction that transcends its original time tends to be viewed as either exceptionally well made or perfectly embodying the ideas, manners and attitudes of the time it was produced, even if it was not actually created as history.
At any one time in history there is the body of non-fiction work which represents the currently accepted truths of the period. Although these non-fiction works may be contradictory they form a corpus that is regularly being altered with better explanations of ideas or with new facts. A good example of this are the non-fiction scientific books and papers which explain the science of the day but are then superseded by better representations. Textbooks for explaining and teaching the current state of scientific and historical knowledge are regularly updated and manuals for operating new technology are also produced.
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Famous quotes containing the word history:
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