Saturday, August 25, 2018

Horrific Crimes . . . or Not

I re-read this great novel during my recent vacation with my family, and I liked it just as much this time as I did the first time I read it.

I must confess, however, that the book has a few (very few) flaws, for example:
- page 127:

"Well, then, Mr. Bousted, good night, until we meet again, and thank you for your kindness to your [my] brother."
This sort of error above is more common than one might think, as is the following kind of error:
- page 253:

me -- a man who had not touched a drop of spirits since that evening when I met Snyder in the saloon on Ohio-street. [Has not drunk alcohol more than once.]
- page 219:

By this time, but for the roaring pain in my head (which a bit of Colonel Goode's excellent brandy had blunted somewhat). [Has drunk alcohol more than once, one time in the saloon, a second time at the Goode mansion, this second time being prior to the reference to alcohol on page 253.]

- page 121:

I pressed the glass to my lips and took a tentative sip. At once my mouth was filled with burning bitterness. [Has drunk alcohol for the first time and wants no more of it due to its taste and the drunken condition in which he finds Snyder.]
Despite the words of the protagonist on page 253 that he had not touched a drop of spirits since the tentative sip on page 121, he tells us on page 219 that he had drunk some excellent brandy (since that tentative sip on page 121).

This is not some dreadful lie, nor any sort of lie on the part of the protagonist; it is merely a moment in which the author has erred in memory, forgetting that the protagonist has in fact had a drink.

If any readers happen to read these words and imagine that 'Dr. Boli' is careless, let me assure all readers that after one has written and rewritten and again rewritten a passage several times -- and I speak from experience -- nearly every author would have difficulty recalling what has been kept and what rejected.

In the spirit of crowd sourcing editorial work, I note these minor errors as assistance to 'Dr. Boli' when he releases his next edition of The Crimes of Galahad.



At 1:13 PM, Blogger Kevin Kim said...

Well spotted, as the Brits would say. And I agree re: the difficulty of keeping details straight when writing at length. I also think that crowd-sourcing the editorial process can result in improved works if the author keeps an open mind: JK Rowling's legions of fans have spotted numerous plot/detail errors in the Harry Potter novels that Rowling graciously went on to correct for later printings.

At 3:40 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Kevin.

I once corrected a writer in Christianity Today who wrote "theodicy" when she meant "theocracy," and she got snarky about it, asking me if I spend my time criticizing other people's writing.

Well, actually, I told her, I do. But I added that I am really a historian.

Jeffery Hodges

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