Literary pet peeves

Jon Noble jon_p_noble at
Sun Feb 9 15:21:11 EST 2003

--- Robyn Starkey <rohina at> wrote:
> >And, of course, there's the Really Glaring
> Anachronism. He came home from 
> >a business trip once and woke me up at three AM to
> babble about the 
> >complete and utter awfulness of a best-selling
> historical novel he had 
> >bought to read on the plane. I forgave him when he
> pointed out that it was 
> >set in ancient Greece and that in the middle of the
> book the characters 
> >refer to a *blueprint* of some building. (And no,
> it was not a time-travel 
> >novel. It was a Serious Historical Novel that has
> gathered many good 
> >reviews and is recommended reading at West Point to
> help the students 
> >understand classical warfare. Go figure.)
> This is one of my pet peeves, too. One of the ones
> that makes me bite books 
> is authors who refer to medieval people using maps
> to find their way around 
> the countryside.

Linguistic anacronisms don't annoy me too much,
although it depends on what it is. Where characters
wouldn't be speaking modern English it is possible to
assume that a word or concept is "translated" into
modern English, as long as something like that concept
would have existed in the original period. In the case
of "blueprint" a better word would have been "plan"
but detailed plans were drawn up for temples and such
in Ancient Greece. Robert Graves in his Claudius books
uses the modern equivilents for Roman military units -
battalion rather than cohort etc. (aside - it annoys
that fantasy writers often use ancient names that are
associated with a particular culture in writing about
their own culture that has nothing else in common with
Maps in the middle ages, even local ones, are
possible, but very unlikely. I read recently that
fragments exist of a map of ancient Rome that not only
shows every building, but has their plans.
On the other hand I do get extremely annoyed when
technical details of something I know about are wrong.

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