Are you from the past?

I am always uncomfortable with historical fiction, only slightly less so with historical film, but I've never really put my finger on why. Jonathan Dee, reviewing Tom McCarthy's Man Booker short-listed C, has done it for me:

"A novel is a document of consciousness, and since consciousness today is not precisely what is was when Woolf wrote, or Flaubert or Cervantes, the search for a form that reflects faithfully what it means to be alive in one's own time - for 'realism,' if you're willing to define it as broadly as that - must constantly refresh its own terms. In this light, the historical novel would seem to offer if not a false testimony exactly, then at best a kind of gloss on existing testimony. The effort to credibly reanimate a time, a way of being, that one never knew: even at its most technically successful, what is that effort drawing upon other than research - in other words, the historical novelist's experience of reading other people's writing?"

I concur.