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 Literary irritations .... 
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Post Re: Footnotes
susan wrote:
Probably a practical matter. Footnotes would have doubled the length of his books. :D

Susan, Somehow I get the feeling that you are only half kidding about Patrick O’Brian :lol: . Even if POB’s Aubrey-Maturin books were substantially increased in length, I believe that POB could have gathered even more fans if he had used footnotes. POB was such a master of 17th and early 18th century literature and history that the average reader was at distinct loss when picking up one of his novels for the first time. Readers outside of Britain are also at a disadvantage. [I remember asking myself: What the heck is Boxing Day. Etc.] I don’t mind looking things up, but try doing a futile search for "young Billy" when O’Brian was really writing about William Pitt the Younger. I ended up writing my own version of footnotes for his novels. I wander how many other fans of his have Post-Its, inserts, or handwritten notes in his books?

Don


Wed Mar 01, 2006 10:14 pm
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Post Places
Places

While writing the previous post, I was reminded that another problem I have is when an author is not clear where a place is. Recently I was reading a non-fiction book and a ship sailed to the Americas and landed at Battle Harbour. I had no clue. "The Americas" is not a tiny place. After a second mysterious (to me) place was mentioned, I went on-line and found out the ship was in Newfoundland, Canada.

Don


Wed Mar 01, 2006 10:25 pm
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Post Re: Footnotes
timoneer wrote:
I wander how many other fans of his have Post-Its, inserts, or handwritten notes in his books?

Shhhhh...don't laugh now. I carry around those steno notebooks to take notes (for all the fiction authors). I find the split format page layout handy. People/ships/terms on the left, definitions and details on the right.

I guess the easy way to go is to buy one of those companion books.

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susan


Thu Mar 02, 2006 12:50 am
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But after the first three books, POB's length of novel seems to have shrunken dramatically.

(Now, that being said, I haven't read past the first chapter of Mauritius Command and Desolation Island due to my loss of interest in POB's work, which is because of the plotlines drawn straight from actual, well-known, events. Why would I ever want to read Far Side of the World, when I can read any of the many accounts of the Essex's voyage?)

Sorry, ran on longer than I intended,

Charity


Thu Mar 02, 2006 1:03 am
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Post Index Inaccuracies
Index Inaccuracies

The book I’m currently reading has an index but the page numbers for some of the items listed are one or two pages off. The publisher must have reformatted the text or something and failed to proof the index. In addition, I have found some subjects or people mentioned in the text not listed in the index at all. Very, very irritating.

Having an index is better than no index, but if a book has one, it ought to be accurate.

Don


Last edited by timoneer on Mon Mar 27, 2006 5:17 am, edited 2 times in total.



Fri Mar 24, 2006 3:19 pm
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Post Errata Data
Errata Data: I wish that authors/publishers would make available on-line an easily downloadable sheet with errors that were detected after printing.

I own one book that was handled that way.

I also remember one new book that, when I opened it, had a separate sheet tucked inside with such info.

Maybe this is just wishful thinking...

Don


Sat Mar 25, 2006 8:07 am
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Post Translations
Translations

I am currently reading a first hand account, in English, that contains whole paragraphs of French without a translation. I think that any book written primarily in one language should offer a translation of any other language, especially if the other language section is significantly long. A word or two doesn't bother me as I can usually puzzle out the meaning from the context or just look it up. However, whole sentences or paragraphs are another matter.

Don


Tue Apr 11, 2006 2:54 pm
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Post Genealogical Charts
Genealogical Charts

Recently I read two books that contained genealogical charts without identifying the significant person in any special way. Why don’t authors draw a box or circle around the person, or put the name in boldface? Many times the same first name appears numerous times across a number of generations making finding the subject of the book very difficult. In addition, the font size on these charts is usually very small and the chart fills one or more pages with lines going everywhere. It’s like looking for a needle in a haystack.

I started reading POB’s biography of Joseph Banks recently (I think this is the third attempt). Did you know that Joseph Banks' uncle, grandfather, and great-grandfather were also named Joseph Banks? Confusing. POB does identify the correct Joseph Banks but it is several pages after the chart and you still have to locate it on the chart.

Don


Sun Jun 25, 2006 1:05 pm
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Use of "Number One" to refer to First Lieutenant/Officer.

Isn't this a more modern term? If I am mistaken, can someone point to a contemporary source?

Every time an author uses "Number One" I immediately picture Picard talking to Riker.

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susan


Thu Jul 13, 2006 1:35 am
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susan wrote:
Use of "Number One" to refer to First Lieutenant/Officer.

Isn't this a more modern term? If I am mistaken, can someone point to a contemporary source?

Every time an author uses "Number One" I immediately picture Picard talking to Riker.

Susan, I concur. I have the same flashback to Picard/Riker. The word "Premier" doesn't bother me as much for AoS but I wonder if it is contemporary for British ships. French navy sounds OK but British navy just doesn't ring true for this term for me either.

Don


Thu Jul 13, 2006 2:28 am
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timoneer wrote:
The word "Premier" doesn't bother me as much for AoS but I wonder if it is contemporary for British ships. French navy sounds OK but British navy just doesn't ring true for this term for me either.

I have seen premier used in contemporary writing. I can't find the reference in my notes at the moment, though. I'm pretty sure I wrote it down.

On edit: Ah, found it. it's in BHall's Fragments of Voyages and Travels.

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Fri Jul 14, 2006 9:57 pm
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susan wrote:
I have seen premier used in contemporary writing... it's in BHall's Fragments of Voyages and Travels.

Thanks, Susan. I'll feel better when I see the word "premier" used on British ships.

Don


Fri Jul 14, 2006 10:25 pm
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Post Character Names in Fiction
Character Names in Fiction

One of the things that I do when reading a novel is to jot down the names of characters. If a character is part of a particular ship’s crew, I usually group the characters under that ship’s name and write a very terse description. Typical would be "Jones, Samuel – bosun, Irish" or "Williams, Robert (Bob) – 1st Lt." I find this helps understand the story line especially if a sentence shows up later in the book like "I invited Bob to join me for dinner" or "Jones was seen in a huddle with several of his fellow countrymen."

I have noticed that various authors handle character names to great extremes sometimes. I have read some books in which most of the officer’s first names are never given and the crew are almost never described except by their titles. In one book I remember the carpenter having dialog in several chapters and being very involved in saving the ship from sinking but never being referenced except as "the carpenter." When this carpenter rushes to the captain yelling that the hold has six feet of water and rising, I do not expect the author to stop the story for a short bio of the carpenter’s life story, but I would hope that giving his name would be reasonable.

I have noticed some novels taking place with several hundred characters on a ship while I find that I have written down only a dozen names when I have finished reading. The other extreme would be the author I am reading now. Each of his books require a second page to record all the names. When a character pops up I have to really search to see if he has already been mentioned or is just a new character.

I have noticed that some authors seem to make a game out of character names. The "bosun" is mentioned in chapter one, "Samuel" is referenced in chapter six, the name "Jones" appears in several chapters, and then, puff, in chapter 29, the captain remarks that the dead body on deck is "Samuel Jones the bosun" tying all the references to the same person. I get a little irritated when that happens.

I am currently reading the second in a series and one major character who was the 1st Lt. for the main character in the first book appears as captain (who has a shore assignment) and performs as the main character’s second in a duel in the second novel but has yet to have a first name. Is that style or just laziness on part of the author? I don’t know.

I would prefer some sort of compromise. If the carpenter appears in only one sentence in the book, I really don’t expect a name and certainly not a life history. However, If a character has dialog, especially on several different occasions, I would expect a name. If he contributes to the story line, even if in a minor way, listing where he is from (or some other very brief description) might not be amiss.

If I had to choose between the extremes, I would prefer the "more" to the "less."

Don


Fri Jul 21, 2006 5:04 am
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Post 
For the most part it's author preference I believe.

As I recall Forester rarely gave his characters first names. It is some time before we learn that Mr. Bush's first name is William and we never learn the first names of Crystal, Rayner, Hooker or Gerard: and these are all important officers.

Still and all I prefer to give all of my characters both first and last names and although it may never make it into the book I have a list giving their ages and homes of record as well. It's just part of how I keep it all straight in my head.

For example the entry for Nathan Zachery reads:

Name - Nathan Zachery, Rank - Lieutenant, Position in Ship - Third Lieutenant, Age - 22, Home of Record - * Haven, Wales.

The reader learns all of this when Sinclair is musing about the future after the fight with Enchante. The same information is there for every character although in most cases the reader only learns some of it. As another example it isn't until Broad Pendant that the reader learns the port admiral in Portsmouth's full name and rank, previously he is just referred to as Sir Edmund or the Port Admiral.

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Sun Jul 23, 2006 1:39 pm
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Post Scottish or other British dialects in phonetic spelling
Scottish or other British dialects in phonetic spelling

I am currently reading a novel* where the Scottish dialect is printed as it is spoken. Frankly, the Scottish language (dialect) is very difficult for me as a non-British subject. I love the fact that the author is trying to make his novel realistic but this, to me, is like trying to read a foreign language, because it is.

The author must realize that understanding this type of dialog is difficult since he even has some of the English characters indicate their lack of understanding of some of the Scottish comments.

I could understand some of it but only after stopping and puzzling it out. For example: dae = do, fit = what, dee = die. I gave up on comments like "nae lang wauk frae here." [When I went back to get a few examples, I took another crack at this last comment and now I believe it means: "no long walk from here."]

A footnote translation is badly needed, at least in the oversea's versions in MHO.

* "Undertaker’s Wind" by Jan Needle [born in Portsmouth, UK]

Don


Thu Aug 17, 2006 12:33 am
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