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 Post subject: Re: Pinning down the dates
PostPosted: 01 Nov 2015, 22:20 
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It was Sybil's age which nearly had me tearing my hair out! It takes her about 8 years to get from 10 to 15, and then she jumps from 20 to 23 to make up for it!

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 Post subject: Re: Pinning down the dates
PostPosted: 01 Nov 2015, 22:40 
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Antonia Forest put a rather wry preface entitled 'Only For Those Who, Like The Author, Prefer Accuracy If They Can Get It' in The Thuggery Affair, about the difficulties of writing the Marlow family books over an extended period. She'd started in 1947 and had so far got the family eighteen months further on while seventeen years had passed in the real world, and things had changed a great deal.
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Since it would be a bore, to me as well as everyone else, to keep strictly to period time...each story has been given a background more or less consistent with the year in which it was written.
But that had made her a different problem, in that Peter Marlow could now no longer be at Dartmouth Naval College by reason of now being below the revised age for admission... she concluded that the only way of coping with it was to say that
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...the fictional time in which the Marlows exist is in the period called Since The War; and that anything true during this time can be true and happening "now" in the books I write about them.


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 Post subject: Re: Pinning down the dates
PostPosted: 01 Nov 2015, 22:50 
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Sugar wrote:
And Jo's age is given as 31 in Bride!

I think that's correct, isn't it? The triplets are ten in Bride (tenth birthday the previous November), so Jo is 31, based on the revised timeline in which she was nearly 21 when they were born.

Victoria wrote:
Certainly, as the series progresses, there are fewer mentions of external events that might provide a chronology - nothing about accession of the Queen, or the Coronation, for example

I suppose one could argue that they were in Switzerland when the Queen succeeded to the throne so it wouldn't have had the same impact as if they'd still been in the UK.

There's mention of the Mau Mau, but that happened over a period of years, so doesn't really pin things down. I don't know enough about what was going on in China in the late '40s to say if Wrong can be dated at all.

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 Post subject: Re: Pinning down the dates
PostPosted: 01 Nov 2015, 23:12 
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It seems weird that major things like the Abdication aren't mentioned, but I think it dates books in the outdated sense as well as the providing a date sense when authors do too much of that. The Adrian Mole books, which were great when I was a kid, now seem very dated because they're full of references to Margaret Thatcher's government, and it's a shame because all Adrian's issues with school, parents, friends, girlfriends and generally growing up are still just as relevant today as they were in the '80s. Obviously things like clothes and technological changes, and even names, "date" books as well, but maybe not quite as much.

Having said which, I would love to have a consistent CS chronology :D, but it just doesn't work and you can drive yourself mad trying to get it to work! And trying to write in real time can be risky because you never know when a big change is just round the corner, as poor EBD found when she moved the CS to Guernsey.

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 Post subject: Re: Pinning down the dates
PostPosted: 01 Nov 2015, 23:18 
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[quote="JayB" I don't know enough about what was going on in China in the late '40s to say if Wrong can be dated at all.[/quote]

The Chinese Civil War continued on-and-off until 1949/50 by which time hostilities effectively ended.

The events of Wrong could refer to problems during the civil war but is more likely to refer to the detention and expulsion of foreign missionaries between 1949 and approximately 1953 (The China Inland Mission had withdrawn all staff by 1952). There were cases of medical missionaries disappearing (some of whom were being detained and were later released; some who were not). This does suggest a very tight timescale for Wrong that fits with Carola's birthdate.


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 Post subject: Re: Pinning down the dates
PostPosted: 01 Nov 2015, 23:26 
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And trying to write in real time can be risky because you never know when a big change is just round the corner

It happened to me - the plot of one of my novels was upstaged by a big real life event. But not one quite on the same scale as the Fall of France!

Technology is the big difficulty these days with writing contemporary fiction. You can be out of date in a couple of years. Novels set in the early '90s when people didn't have mobile phones or personal computers can seem more dated than novels set in the 1930s.

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The events of Wrong could refer to problems during the civil war but is more likely to refer to the detention and expulsion of foreign missionaries between 1949 and approximately 1953

Thank you, Victoria. It does seem as if EBD kept up with the news and looked for ways to include current events in the CS.

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 Post subject: Re: Pinning down the dates
PostPosted: 02 Nov 2015, 00:06 
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To my mind EBD falls into the following phases:

The first Tyrol books are contemporary, and written about a real place. The early books provide casual mentions of external events that give a time to the books, and there's a very strong sense of place. The backgrounds can be taken to be representative of the time a d attitudes

The later Tyrol books are starting to detach from time. The strong sense of place remains but this is becoming "CS-land". The external time period does not change although CS-time continues to flow.

The war is a bit of a problem as it wrenchs the series firmly back into an external timeline. EBD had the choice of continuing to write about a place-and-time that no longer existed or, as she did, reacting to real events. (Realistically, she probably wouldn't have been able to sell books if she hadn't moved the School).

Her first attempt to send the CS to an "exotic" destination is rather blown by the Fall of France and she ends up briing the Cs to her home. (Lavender's Aunt Sylvia has rather the same problem when the war stops her travelling). The books continue to have a strong link to outside events and have again, acquired a strong sense of place. There is a flow of CS-time but it no longer matches external time

The removal to St Briavels is a further attempt to provide an "exotic" setting. The external timeline still exists but is weakening (they are specific mentions rather than just background). The sense of place is less strong.

With the removal of the School to Switzerland, external time become irrelevant and there is no strong sense of place. Although CS-time flows, it is doing so within a stagnant universe. Although there are mentions of contemporary events (like space travel, beatniks and the Mau-Mau), the actual attitudes and behaviour within the books are stuck in the immediate post-war years - and earlier in some matters. The School has become detached in both time and place (which is one of the weaknesses of the later books).

So there are 2 blocks of external dating (the start of the series, and the war and immediate aftermath) but the internal flow doesn't match that. The Swiss books have very little relationship to external time and what there is seems often to be shoe-horned in to make the stories "seem" more contemporary.


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 Post subject: Re: Pinning down the dates
PostPosted: 02 Nov 2015, 00:29 
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JayB wrote:
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And trying to write in real time can be risky because you never know when a big change is just round the corner

It happened to me - the plot of one of my novels was upstaged by a big real life event. But not one quite on the same scale as the Fall of France!

Our history teacher once told us how the Matrics wrote their final history paper the week the Berlin Wall fell - and their essays just had to assume that nothing new had happened.:roll:
Really like your summary, Victoria! It's interesting though how often a series is more successful when it feels a bit timeless - the example that comes to mind are the Wells books by Lorna Hill. I've been reading some spy novels by Alan Furst and finding that I need to read up on all kinds of Eastern European history just to make sense of the plot! i.e. too much accuracy is not always a good thing!

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 Post subject: Re: Pinning down the dates
PostPosted: 02 Nov 2015, 08:43 
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I started my economics A-level course in September 1990. The whole course was based around the difference between free market economies and planned (i.e. communist-style) economies. The Berlin Wall had come down in November 1989 and communism was collapsing at a rate of knots. The Soviet Union broke up in December 1991, 6 months before we did our actual A-level exams. There was no time for the examining board to rewrite the syllabus, so we just had to go with it all :lol: .

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 Post subject: Re: Pinning down the dates
PostPosted: 02 Nov 2015, 09:59 
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JayB wrote:
Technology is the big difficulty these days with writing contemporary fiction. You can be out of date in a couple of years. Novels set in the early '90s when people didn't have mobile phones or personal computers can seem more dated than novels set in the 1930s.


Absolutely this.

I'm rereading early Val McDermid novels at the moment - the Lindsay Gordon series set in the 1980s - and they are very dated by the lack of technology. Phone boxes feature heavily :shock:


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 Post subject: Re: Pinning down the dates
PostPosted: 02 Nov 2015, 16:55 
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JayB wrote:
But I have yet to work out how Coming of Age takes place twenty one years after School At, whatever chronology you're working from.


I managed to make it fit in my personal timeline, but this could be because I prefer to take big events like 1939 and the coming of age to fix the dates, rather than character ages. Had EBD been a little more consistent with character ages, perhaps I wouldn't so casually discard them, but as it is... :lol:
Then again, I seem to be unusual in holding that there is only one term between New and Exile rather than four, which possibly gives my timeline extra time to fit the books and gaps in that others' don't have.

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 Post subject: Re: Pinning down the dates
PostPosted: 02 Nov 2015, 22:29 
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JB wrote:
Absolutely this.

I'm rereading early Val McDermid novels at the moment - the Lindsay Gordon series set in the 1980s - and they are very dated by the lack of technology. Phone boxes feature heavily :shock:


Trebizon is similar - pay-phones and cassette recorders! It's out-dated rather than timeless.


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 Post subject: Re: Pinning down the dates
PostPosted: 02 Nov 2015, 22:45 
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Alison H wrote:
I started my economics A-level course in September 1990. The whole course was based around the difference between free market economies and planned (i.e. communist-style) economies. The Berlin Wall had come down in November 1989 and communism was collapsing at a rate of knots....

I have a Philips School Atlas that was published in 1914. The school it belonged to stamped it with their name and the date September 1917, presumably when they acquired it. In just over a year from then it would be obsolete.

Rietta wrote:
I seem to be unusual in holding that there is only one term between New and Exile rather than four...

EBD's intention in knocking a year off Joey's age may have been to eradicate that year, but I think there has to be a year to allow time for Elisaveta & Co's holiday at the Tiernsee, her wedding, and Jo and Robin's trip to India. If Jo had never mentioned the Indian trip, one could pretend it had never happened, but she did, so it has to be accepted as canon.

Does there also have to be a year to allow for Marie to have the number of children she has by the second half of Exile? Not sure of the ages of her children.

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 Post subject: Re: Pinning down the dates
PostPosted: 02 Nov 2015, 22:58 
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Marie's first baby, Wolfram, is born just before the start of Exile, and we're told that she'd been married almost three years by then, which ties in with an extra year's gap. She got married straight after New House so had time to have a baby before Exile without the extra year, but only if you ignore the comment about having waited nearly three years :D .

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 Post subject: Re: Pinning down the dates
PostPosted: 03 Nov 2015, 08:32 
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Alison H wrote:
I started my economics A-level course in September 1990. The whole course was based around the difference between free market economies and planned (i.e. communist-style) economies. The Berlin Wall had come down in November 1989 and communism was collapsing at a rate of knots. The Soviet Union broke up in December 1991, 6 months before we did our actual A-level exams. There was no time for the examining board to rewrite the syllabus, so we just had to go with it all :lol: .


You get similar issues with some science courses, when you're dealing not with classical science, but with currently active fields. I was was marking an exam once where the fairly recent textbook was outdated, due to discoveries over the past couple of year. The lectures covered the new stuff, so you could easily spot who had come to lectures, and who skipped classes and studied the textbook only. I was seriously impressed when one student referenced a new result from that had only been released a day or two before - the students had studied the experimental method, but at that point there had been no actual results.

I find that the perception cultural references changes with time. So a modern novel with references to Facebook, Twitter, Trump and the new Star Wars movie will seem very current, but a book from the 90s talking about VHS, Yahoo, Mariah Carey and Nancy Kerrigan will seem jarringly dated, and a book from the 30s which references radio broadcasts, Shirley Temple, and swing music will be enjoyed for its historical interest.


which frequently references current events, pop culture and technology was very with-it when it came out,

will seem jarringly dated, but a book from the 30s that does the

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 Post subject: Re: Pinning down the dates
PostPosted: 07 Nov 2015, 21:11 
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One book which I always find interesting is the first Dimsie book, which was published in 1921 and very specifically set in 1919, because of its portrayal of the first anniversary of the Armistice - we see that, at that time, Armistice Day was a cause for celebrations, local fetes, etc, whereas obviously now it's a very sombre occasion. Specific dates in books can make for problems, but they can also be very interesting from a historical viewpoint, as with Exile and Goes To It.

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 Post subject: Re: Pinning down the dates
PostPosted: 08 Nov 2015, 17:32 
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I once saw an updated version of Dimsie Goes to School, aka The Senior Prefect. Almost everything had been changed. Dimsie wore tights instead of stockings. Her mother's 'crime' had been changed from cheating at cards to shoplifting. I don't recall how it dealt with the Armistice; I think I probably gave up before I got that far.

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 Post subject: Re: Pinning down the dates
PostPosted: 08 Nov 2015, 18:23 
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Is that the truly dreadful 1983 edition?

I think the whole Armistice stuff is cut.


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 Post subject: Re: Pinning down the dates
PostPosted: 10 Nov 2015, 19:12 
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jennifer wrote:
Alison H wrote:
I started my economics A-level course in September 1990. The whole course was based around the difference between free market economies and planned (i.e. communist-style) economies. The Berlin Wall had come down in November 1989 and communism was collapsing at a rate of knots. The Soviet Union broke up in December 1991, 6 months before we did our actual A-level exams. There was no time for the examining board to rewrite the syllabus, so we just had to go with it all :lol: .


You get similar issues with some science courses, when you're dealing not with classical science, but with currently active fields. I was was marking an exam once where the fairly recent textbook was outdated, due to discoveries over the past couple of year. The lectures covered the new stuff, so you could easily spot who had come to lectures, and who skipped classes and studied the textbook only. I was seriously impressed when one student referenced a new result from that had only been released a day or two before - the students had studied the experimental method, but at that point there had been no actual results.


This never happens in Assyriology.

("In <so-and-so>'s seminal article of 1963...")

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 Post subject: Re: Pinning down the dates
PostPosted: 10 Nov 2015, 19:54 
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Finn wrote:
This never happens in Assyriology.

("In <so-and-so>'s seminal article of 1963...")


Are you quite sure? Have you been keeping an eye on the Pyramids lately? :roll:

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