Here's an autumn picture - newly ploughed fields....and Halloween went by without a murmur in our cul de sac. Put it down to the nasty cold rain that night, or the fact that the kids have all grown beyond wearing mum's old sheet with two holes cut for eyes. Yet in town, adults were standing in a ten, twelve yard queue, outside in the cold, waiting to get inside and make purchases of some kind at the only Halloween shop in town. It seems to me a very odd thing when adults take over festivals that twenty years ago were considered fit only for children.
I finished reading Saturnalia by Lindsey Davis last week and thought I'd offer a comment or two. I was particularly intrigued by her use of language. I knew she used modern langauge, but now that I'm writing myself I looked at what she does with new eyes. Isn't it amazing how this happens? Something I've taken for granted for years suddenly takes on a new aspect because I started to question how I used language in my writing.
Lindsey says in the notes section: "I write about another culture, where people spoke another language, one which has mainly survived either in a literary form or as tavern wall graffiti. Many an argot must have existed in between. People sometimes discuss whether the Romans would really sound as I portray them - forgetting firstly that the Romans spoke Latin not English, and that on the streets and in the provinces they must have spoekn versions of Latin that did not survive. I have to find my own ways to make narrative and dialogue convincing."
She goes on: "It is no good hoping that the carbonised papyri from Herculaneum that are now being so painstakingly unravelled by scholars will produce clues; so far they are all Greek to me, and indeed to everyone. If Calpurnius Piso, thought to be the villa's owner, owned a Slang Thesaurus, we have not found it."
So she deploys metaphors and similes that work in context, and sometimes she invents words, although she has to struggle to get them by her British editor. And above all, she uses modern, slang English. It works. And people like it; after all, this is her eighteenth book about Marcus Didius Falco.