Fiction Authors Get It Wrong
Sat, 13 Jun 2009 11:51:54 PDT
On 12 Jun 2009, at 14:50, Judy Glattstein wrote:

> Does anyone else become peeved when reading a novel and the author is just
> tossing in plants with no regard to season? Suddenly, there we are in autumn
> but the author has camas in flower? Really influences (negatively) my
> enjoyment of the book. 

I was reading a posting on one of the Craigslist forums from someone wondering 
how to work string theory into a story involving time travel. Someone 
recommended, fairly strongly, that the would-be author(ess) reject any attempt 
to conform to reality and make it all up, the more outlandish the better. After 
all, it *is* fiction.

Let's just say it's  "artistic license".

Another example: some of the great Dutch flower paintings showing all manner of 
flowers together that in fact do not, never have, and never will blooom 
together. Any logical defects are far outweighed by the resultant beauty.

And as for Tolkien, anyone wanting deeper insight into The Hobbit and The Lord 
of the Rings is well advised to read T. A. Shippey's "The Road to Middle 
Earth." Shippey knew Tolkien toward the end of the latter's life and also 
happens to work in the same academic field. Shippey's book will deepen your 
appreciation for Tolkien's greatness as a writer.

Potatoes and tobacco are pointed out for precisely the reasons mentioned by 
other contributors to this thread, and Tolkien himself (an ardent smoker, I 
believe) accepted that they were anachronistic, as were some other plot 
elements. Part of the trouble is that The Hobbit starts off as a children's 
comedy but the mood becomes more serious as the book progresses, and what 
worked in a comedic sense fails in the context of the later parts.

I think it's in an early chapter of LoTR that there's a passing mention of the 
sound of a lawnmower, another gross anachronism. Such is life.

It's more annoying to me when an author tries too hard to be realistic. I'd 
much rather read of an early spring garden spangled with lobelia and primroses 
adorning the hedgerows as fall sets in than some failed, lame attempt at 

I'll check the local community college and see if they offer a course in the 
suspension of disbelief. How will that do?

Ob Bulbs: Seed harvesting season is upon us. I was surprised to discover a few 
seeds on Anemone ranunculoides wockeana which I intend to sow. And just before 
I came in and caught up on on PBS goings on, I gathered a small quantity of 
Romulea bulbocodium seed.

Question: does anyone know what distinguishes Romulea bulbocodium leichtlinii 
from the plain species. And ditto for Tulipa sprengeri 'Trotter's Form'.

Rodger Whitlock
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Maritime Zone 8, a cool Mediterranean climate
on beautiful Vancouver Island…

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