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France’s Jehanne: The 15th Century Heroine in Truth and Fiction
By Erin Rogers
Sweet Briar College Honors Journal (Fall 2007)
Introduction: In the spring of my first year at Sweet Briar College, 2005, I took the course, “France’s Heroes in Art and Literature,” an Honors Seminar taught by Dr. MarieTherese Killiam. In this class I was given an assignment to creatively record my studies in a written journal focusing on one highlighted figure. This is how I began writing my version of Joan of Arc’s highly chronicled life in her voice.
Although it is appealing to compose an historical, yet autobiographical narrative, it is necessary to acknowledge that there are few, if any, available sources in existence to accurately and comprehensively understand her character and her voice alone. The attempt to isolate her actual story is an arduous and valuable endeavor involving the study of character, situation, and psychology through historical text. However, it is unrealistic for one to succeed with accuracy. Only if Joan of Arc, or Jehanne la Pucelle as she was known, had kept a record of her life would her story be precise; and even one’s own account of their life is rarely completely factual. Therefore, the novelist’s biographical narrative can be considered an artistic endeavor, using as little or as much historical truth as is accessible or perhaps desired.