Medieval vs Renaissance

So, those of you who know me know that I have a distinct affection for history. I will not say I am a history buff, but I am interested in almost anything historical – within reason, please, lol. Beginning early in my life, I have been fascinated by the thoughts, activities and stories of those who have passed before me. This includes ancient history through to modern history. I think because I am introspective about myself, looking back on past actions is easier for me than looking forward.

Anyway, one thing that does bother me is the abuse of history by authors of popular novels. This goes for everything from describing clothing incorrectly to having the wrong King on the throne in the timeline of the novel. I’m just a jerk that way I guess. I try not to let it bother me for the most part, but some things really really irritate me, mostly because I think these peccadilloes just show the author was lazy in his or her research. Especially in these days of Google and Wikipedia, there is no excuse for incorrect dates, fashion information, political events and social activities.

For instance, I used to read this one author who always described her heroines as “progressive” and said they didn’t wear a corset. While I allow this helps along the love scenes, not wearing a corset deemed a woman as a “loose” woman in the 19th century. As progressive as a woman was, it’s fairly unlikely that in the scenarios put forth of shop girls to high born ladies, they wouldn’t sacrifice their reputation for the sake of comfort. This one bothered me so much it inspired a “top ten” list of corset myths over at Who Were They?, one of my sister sites.

Now, I am the queen of suspending my disbelief. I can accept all the crazy stuff that happens in the vampire world, werwolves, fantasy worlds, Game of Thrones, witch craft, all of it, so I’m not saying poetic license or creative timelines are inappropriate. But, I refer you back to the existence of Google and Wikipedia for simple historical research.

Currently I am reading a book that is modern but set in a Renaissance fair. It’s quite fun, particularly since I spent enough weekends of my own working at the Ren Fair back in the day. I can totally relate to so much of what is happening, I really am enjoying the book.

But.

And there’s that “but.”

The author insists on referring to the time period as Medieval and Renaissance interchangeably.

There is a difference! The confusion may stem from the fact that the Renaissance began at different times throughout Europe, so some countries were in the Middle Ages while others had moved on to the Renaissance. England entered the Renaissance period later than most other European countries, and so Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603) is a popular figure at Ren Fair, right along side Christopher Columbus (1451-1506). But while we all sort of know that Christopher Columbus and his contemporary Leonardo DaVinci are pivotal characters of the Renaissance, it is easy to forget that while they were discovering new worlds and painting masterpieces, other parts of the world were still mucking about in the Middle Ages and William Shakespeare (1564-1616) hadn’t even been born!

Granted, a Renaissance Fair celebrates the entire period (generally 1347-1605 or thereabouts), and seriously a Ren Fair is almost as far from historical accuracy as one can get, but it is not Medieval Times and that is what bugs me.

So there you go.

Book Review: Wind Through the Keyhole

I recently finished Wind Through the Keyhole, by Stephen King. This book is a recent addition to the Dark Tower series, in between Wizard in Glass and Wolves of the Calla. (If that means anything to you) Wizard was published in ’97 and Wolves in ’03, but Wind Through the Keyhole was published in ’12. King says in his forward that it is sort of like book 4.5. Sometimes a writer discovers that a story really isn’t finished after all, and it appears that is the case here.

If you haven’t read any of the Dark Tower series, just ignore this book and begin with The Gunslinger. The Dark Tower books are set in a futuristic/western/fantasy world that in some places overlaps our time line and in others deviates into bizarre machines that control the world. 

Wind Through the Keyhole is a story within a story within a story. Roland and his gang settle in to shelter from a stark blast – a terrible tornado/hurricane/arctic storm that will freeze everything in its path – and this reminds Roland of a story from his youth as a fledgling gunslinger (law man), and in that story he told the story of young Tim and his adventures seeking truth and also weathering a stark blast. In typical King fashion, this story reaches out and holds you from beginning to end, twisting and turning along a winding path that is all together fascinating and at the same time never losing its way. The writers talent is well known and his praises rightly sung. It isn’t necessary to read this book in order with the others, but it does help develop Roland’s character a tiny bit. He is alternately cold hearted and sentimental, a clash of his history with his conscience, and truly the much beloved anti-hero hero of the Dark Tower series.