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Anachronisms

For discussions of historical fiction. Threads that do not relate to historical fiction should be started in the Chat forum or elsewhere on the forum, depending on the topic.
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Margaret
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Anachronisms

Post by Margaret » Tue November 18th, 2008, 6:14 pm

Ludmilla and Chuck had a great idea to get a thread going devoted to anachronisms. I have no special expertise in anachronisms, but I am going to stick my neck out and start the thread.

Have you noticed an anachronism in something you read recently that drove you nuts? Do share!

Has someone complained about an "anachronism" in a novel that you know is, on the contrary, an accurate reflection of a time period? Share that, too!

How many (and/or what kind of) anachronisms will you tolerate in a novel you're reading before you give up and bang the wall with it?
Browse over 5000 historical novel listings (probably well over 5000 by now, but I haven't re-counted lately) and over 700 reviews at www.HistoricalNovels.info

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Volgadon
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Post by Volgadon » Tue November 18th, 2008, 7:39 pm

O'Brien's Master & Commander has them using rockets on board a ship, about a decade or so before Congreve came up with his, which were issued to the army.

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princess garnet
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Post by princess garnet » Tue November 18th, 2008, 11:01 pm

In The Crown Rose by Fiona Avery, there's mention of the pew at one of the Parisian churches.

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EC2
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Post by EC2 » Tue November 18th, 2008, 11:22 pm

Ariana Franklin having brandy and laudanum in 12th century England and talking about Henry II having a billiard table and describing his head as being like a cannon ball.

Sarah Bower having a friar in The Needle in the Blood 200 years before friars were invented.

Poesie Graeme Evans having a full on scene with a Jewish trader 150 years after the Jews were expelled from England.

Robyn Young having characters address the King as 'Your Majesty' in 13thC England.

Elizabeth Chadwick giving Prince John 3 lions on his shield before his brother Richard had been to Cyprus. Therefore there should only have been 2.

Elizabeth Chadwick called Gloucester Abbey Gloucester Cathedral in The Greatest Knight (yes, someone wrote in to tell her about both the aforementioned!).

Elizabeth Chadwick mentioning a loaf of sugar in one novel (correct). Reader writing in to say they didn't have the technology to process sugar beet back then. Author taking time out to reply that it was actually sugar cane they were using and explaining all about crushing mills and the middle eastern sugar trade.

I'll think of loads more as I go on, but these are just some initial thoughts.
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Volgadon
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Post by Volgadon » Tue November 18th, 2008, 11:42 pm

The scene with the Jewish trader would fall under things you thought were anachronisms but weren't. Its a myth that after the expulsion there were no Jews in England until Cromwell. Not all had left and many resided in England, it was just illegal and they weren't there, officialy.

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EC2
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Post by EC2 » Tue November 18th, 2008, 11:50 pm

[quote=""Volgadon""]The scene with the Jewish trader would fall under things you thought were anachronisms but weren't. Its a myth that after the expulsion there were no Jews in England until Cromwell. Not all had left and many resided in England, it was just illegal and they weren't there, officialy.[/quote]

Not in this case Volgadon. You would have to read the novel to get the gist but the guy is trading openly and blatantly Jewish and fully accepted. There is no perception or mention or awareness of the expulsion. Believe me, in this case it IS an anachronism. Have you read The Exiled?
Les proz e les vassals
Souvent entre piez de chevals
Kar ja li coard n’I chasront

'The Brave and the valiant
Are always to be found between the hooves of horses
For never will cowards fall down there.'

Histoire de Guillaume le Mareschal

www.elizabethchadwick.com

annis
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Post by annis » Tue November 18th, 2008, 11:51 pm

Do you find readers pointing out where they think you've gone astray helpful or infuriating, EC?

The laudanum one is interesting. The medicinal uses of opium were certainly known in the Middle Ages, and I seem to recall traces of it were found in the explorations of the Augustinian hospital of the Holy Trinity in Scotland, though the process of producing it as the tincture laudanum didn't take place till some centuries later. So if Ariana Franklin had said opium, she would have been okay.
Last edited by annis on Tue November 18th, 2008, 11:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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EC2
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Post by EC2 » Wed November 19th, 2008, 12:01 am

[quote=""annis""]Do you find readers pointing out where they think you've gone astray helpful or infuriating, EC?[/quote]

One's initial response is sometimes to think **!&*$" know -all, but that is just the gut reaction. Once that has died down, it's time to assimiliate the information. You make a pact with the reader to take them to another world. If the reader knows more than you do about a certain subject, then if you don't get the facts right in their area, they are bound to be pulled out of the story. I always write back and thank them for taking the time and trouble to point out the error and say that I have added it to my knowledge database.

What do others do? If you're a writer how do you respond to an error?
If you're a reader what do you do? Has anyone ever written to an author to point out a mistake?
Last edited by EC2 on Wed November 19th, 2008, 12:02 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: typo
Les proz e les vassals
Souvent entre piez de chevals
Kar ja li coard n’I chasront

'The Brave and the valiant
Are always to be found between the hooves of horses
For never will cowards fall down there.'

Histoire de Guillaume le Mareschal

www.elizabethchadwick.com

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Alaric
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Post by Alaric » Wed November 19th, 2008, 6:16 am

[quote=""Volgadon""]O'Brien's Master & Commander has them using rockets on board a ship, about a decade or so before Congreve came up with his, which were issued to the army.[/quote]

Hayder Ali and Tippoo Sultan were using iron-cast rockets against the British in India a decade before that book is set, it's probably where they came from.

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Volgadon
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Post by Volgadon » Wed November 19th, 2008, 8:22 am

Umm, they weren't laying about in the Mediteranean for any ship captain to take and use, and the ones in the novel weren't the Tipoo's. I have long since sold the book, so I can't check, but I'm pretty sure he even called them congreves.

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