Anachronistic tendencies

All of this talk about steampunk around here lately got me thinking about my fascination with history.  It’s one of my favorite subjects to study and read about.  I’m unable to resist pondering the lives of people in other times.  What was it like to wear their clothes?  Use their bathrooms?  Eat their food?  Clean their houses?  Show me a passage that describes daily life in another time and I will read it voraciously.

I love historical fiction for that reason.  Books like the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon that are so impeccably researched are my kind of thing.  Gabaldon is so great at building up the world around her characters so you feel you are roughing it in 18th century Scotland and America right along side them.

That rich world building laced with history is part of what makes steampunk so appealing to me.  Yet the fantasy lover in me can also get on board with the anachronism of the futuristic gadgetry.  Combining the two sort of creates the perfect existence – the advantages of technology and the formal etiquette of days gone by.

I certainly have my moments when I wish I could be living in another time.  Who is the comedian who joked that nobody ever pictures themselves as a serf or a slave?  It was a really funny bit I remember watching where they talked about how when we think of reincarnation and being in another time it’s always as a queen or lord or some other high-ranking society member, despite the odds being against that situation.  Quite funny, and I’m as guilty of it as the next person.

If I could live in any other time, it would be 17th century France.  I have some serious love for the Sun King, Louis XIV.  Seeing Versailles was a high point of my honeymoon. Imagining the palace filled with servants and courtiers, looking through windows as thousands of others had done for centuries…chills.  Nothing makes me swoon more.

What time and place do you fantasize about the most?  What era do you envy?

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5 thoughts on “Anachronistic tendencies

  1. I love historical fiction for this very reason. I love seeing how people lived in different times, and how their time period shaped them as people. It's endlessly fascinating to me. Like having a time machine. I'm right there with you on the "I'll be a princess not a serf" thing. Who wants to live dirty and die young with little say in your life? No thank you. Which is not to say that didn't happen to the royals, especially when compared with modern standards, but it just seems a lot more fun when they do it wearing velvet and sitting on a throne. 😛 Plus there's all that fun political intrigue. I like reading about American history. Especially pioneering American history (either early founding and exploration of the country, or westward expansion). The idea of all of that discovery is awe inspiring. Imagine traveling west and it just keeps going? Across mountains and deserts and forests and swamps. All of those new peoples and new animals seen for the very first time. Plus, it's one of the few times in history that seems more attainable in that you didn't have to be wealthy or royal. You could be anyone or no one.

  2. I fantasize about the Heian era of Japan. I read _The Tale of Genji_ in college and fell in love with the setting. I dream of that Imperial court where men were admired as much for their ability to write poetry or create perfume as for martial skills, and where women were admired for their beautiful handwriting and their taste in silks. And their romanic intrigues!

  3. Oh my gosh, YES! How cool to be part of a group of people discovering this land, this country? Incredible. Maybe that's why I loved to play Oregon Trail so much as a kid. The later books in the Outlander series spend most of their time in the backcountry of North Carolina before the Revolution. Fascinating stuff!

  4. A time when the arts were valued and respected? Must have been nice. These days the arts continue to lose their funding and now England's ready to do away with it at college by privatizing higher ed. So sad.

  5. Oregon Trail rocked!! My friends were always dying of dysentery, but man was I great at hunting!I so need to read Outlander. Someday!

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