This was posted on one of my Historical Fiction yahoo groups, so I’m quoting the poster here. I knew this sort of thing went on in children’s fiction, but …. really!!! There are no words.

“An author friend of mine writes medieval romances set in Scotland, She is half Scottish herself and knew her history very well, however, her editors wanted a lot of historical facts taken out of the story and she was told to dumb the book down. Why? Because the publisher ( a large mass market publisher in New York) said that the American public don’t want too much history in their historical romances!

“So, she had to take out the real medieval words, like destrier and replace it with words the general public would know, like war horse. To me, this is disgusting. I know when I read a book and there is a word I don’t know, then I’ll look it up and feel better for knowing a new word.


“So, sometimes the lack of historical detail isn’t the authors’ fault. Sometimes, it’s the publisher, who thinks the public don’t want to be educated even in a slight way.”

I have to praise my publisher mightily in this respect. My novel is pretty hard to catagorize, being a historical homoerotic romantic fiction, but she never once said to me “Do you really have to bang on about Linnaeus?” The editors did question my use of “big words” once or twice but I was firm and said that if they didn’t know what words like “bursary” meant then they could go and look ‘em up.

But really. I’ve ranted about this in Harry Potter fandom, where they changed the books to suit the American market and had the kids eating Jello and Fries instead of Jelly and chips, but dumbing down in historical novels? I learned a lot of my history from Jean Plaidy, and if I didn’t know a word I looked it up. It’s almost as if there’s some conspiracy to keep people stupid. How is one supposed to improved one’s vocabularly if you are never presented with a word you don’t know? Call My Bluff is the best game EVER. Rant ranty rant rant.

Rant.

© Copyright 2006 Erastes, All rights Reserved. Written For: Erastes
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