The World We Have Lost

Source: Law & Liberty
by James Hankins

“It’s a well-known fact that historians generally don’t like historical fiction. Movies set in past periods of history, ‘based on real events’ or not, generally put our teeth on edge. Such fictions are ordinarily filled with ridiculous anachronisms. The anachronisms are most obvious when mushy modern phrases from our therapeutic culture — urging us to share our feelings or hoping we are comfortable with this or that — are put in the mouths of Roman legionaries or medieval churchmen. The producers of British costume dramas are generally brilliant at providing exact reconstructions of the physical environment and costumes used in, say, Jane Austin’s Bath, but they are less accurate when it comes to reconstructing her lost linguistic and conceptual world. I’m sure it sounds stuffy to non-historians when those of us in the trade get annoyed over anachronisms in historical fiction and films. But there’s a method to our miffedness.” (05/31/24)