“Trying to summarize the plot of a Pratchett novel is like describing Hamlet as a play about a troubled guy with an Oedipus complex and a murderous uncle.” Barbara Mertz
These days I have embarked upon the adventure of rereading the Truth, and I’m enjoying it so far. I was so used to the Ankh-Morpork newspaper, the Times, than I almost didn’t remember its creation Odyssey… and rediscovering it is turning out to be really exciting!
Within the first pages pearls like these caught my eye:
“When one has been ruler of this city as long as I have,” he said, “one gets to know with sad certainty that whenever some well-meaning soul begins a novel enterprise they always, with some kind of uncanny foresight, site it at the point where it will do maximum harm to the fabric of reality."
“An engraved page was an engraved page, complete and unique. But if you took the leaden letters that had previously been used to set the words of a god, and then used them to set a cookery book, what did that do to the holy wisdom? For that matter, what would it do to the pie? As for printing a book for spells, and then using the same type for a book of navigation -well, the voyage might go anywhere.”
“So William de Worde told the truth, out of cosmic self-defence. He’d found a hard truth less hard than an easy lie.”
As you may have guessed, I finished “The Truth” many weeks ago. The reason I didn’t complete my review is that when I was going to do so I noticed I had lost all the notes and quotes I had written down!! I’m still looking for them and when they finally come up I’ll share them with you, you can be sure about it!
Meanwhile, if there is something I can say, is that rereading Discworld is one the best things that have happened to me -after discovering Discworld, of course!- “The Truth” included. Although the feeling I remember I got when reading this novel for the first time was simply “slightly amused”, I can assure you I have totally changed my mind! Even the last page made me laugh out loud ^^
Whoops! Sorry, Mixa, looks like I missed you post for about 6 years. (!) My apologies.
Very amusing image! I can't remember when this happens in the book. Does anyone know?
*puts down his Staff of Thread Necromancy +10*
Anyway, I have a question. In Pterry's words: "It's a Law of Narrative that if your gang consists of two people (a gangette) one will be the brains of the outfit and the other will supply the muscle and speak like dat. They must both, of course, wear black suits. If there are three of them, that still applies but the new guy will be called Fingers." (The Art of Discworld, 2004)
This reminded me, of course, of Mr Pin and Mr Tulip.
I am currently writing just such a gangette, set in the Roman Republic (about 200 BC). So ... is it too much of a stretch for our bruiser to "speak like dat"? For instance:
"I like rivers too. Dey nice. Dem tributaries is tricky. Wanna go sailin'?"
...and so on. Does that sound like the way a "bruiser" character, like Mr Tulip, would talk - or does it sound more like Sergeant Detritus? (Then again, don't forget - Detritus started out as a "bruiser" too!)
We-ell, it's a common caricature. I know that Latin itself has changed pronunciation and grammar. Caesar's writings are considered to be either ungrammatical or correct-for-his-time. Different from Classical Latin, anyway. Church Latin is its own thing. Some time near the end of the 20th century, we were all told that pronouncing "Celtic" with an "S'" sound was Wrong, and it was now "Keltic" despite having been taught officially as Seltic for hundreds of years. So maybe you could just have them pronounce K words with an S? but maybe that would be too silly - just a Sarisature, really,.
Hmm. I'm aware that "speaking like dat" is a caricature, which is why I'm giving my bruiser an added feature (i.e. an interest in rivers and sailing). Quite possibly he was a sailor - perhaps a smuggler? - before he turned to crime.
Mr Tulip has a similar obsession (with art). Of course, I'll need to develop my "bruiser" a little more to match Mr Tulip. So, let's see ... *cracks open bottle of ink*
My bruiser is a Greek smuggler of figs, a delicacy in the ancient world. He was born in Thebes but moved to Chaonia, on the Greek west coast, where he fell in with a bad crowd and started fig-smuggling to eastern Italy, sailing around the wild lands of the Thracians and Illyrians (today's Albania). Inevitably, some sycophant told on him (in ancient Greece, importing figs was a crime against the state, so someone who snitched on a fig smuggler was known - literally - as "sycophant), so our bruiser thought it best to leave and sail to Italy. Junius, the local crime bigwig whose underlings accepted the figs, welcomed our bruiser with open arms, and said bruiser served Junius faithfully until (and even after) they were caught and imprisoned.
My bruiser is, obviously, large but rather simple. He knows what he likes (very few things) and who he's obliged to (Junius). His role, which he's happy with, is to act as muscle. As a former sailor, he naturally worships Poseidon and has a small copper wristband of a merman on his left wrist.
How does that sound? This guy is a very minor character, so I think I've got more than enough details on him!
As for Latin, I'm hoping to stay away from it unless it either serves the story or fairly easy to understand. (That is, I'm not doing Latin just to be a show-off, e.g. "Look at how much Latin I know"). No audience likes that, right?
I wasn't think ing of your using actual Latin, just the kind of difference that Latin has developed. As if he learned it before a change happened, so what he says was right when he learned it, but now it's old fashioned. Or maybe he's from the western Greek islands and the others are from the eastern, or vice versa - one side says Omar and the other says Homer, it's like Cockneys dropping the H, except I'm told it actually also was done in ancient Greece. (That might confuse people, but it's no worse than using a Brooklyn accent.)
On the other hand, I''m not sure he needs to have a speech defect/accent. You say he's slightly simple. He should speak in short sentences, use fairly easy concepts. Maybe he could be the kind who is slow but once he learn something, it sticks with him. Then he could occasionally come out with something startling to people who were writing him off as utterly ignorant, especially if he rarely speaks more than a simple yes or no. I think I was thinking of early Detritus, but another example is one of the girls in Susan's class in school, the one who drifts sweetly through life, and luckily has rich parents. She came up with a piece of genuine wisdom and surprised Susan.
All right. Here's a very short scene I wrote for him:
“You likes rivers, Mister Lucius?” The behemoth rumbled.
"Er, yes?" Lucius squeaked, a peculiar bowel-twisting dread creeping up and down his spine.
“Dat’s nice," Crusher said. "I knows a nice little river, wif tributaries an’ channels an’ stuff.”
Lucius had enough reservoirs of cheek to ask: "How does it smell?"
“It don't," Crusher said. "I collec' river water from one channel and make scented lotion, for using after I shave. I calls it, Eww de Channel.” He grinned his cracked-teeth grin. “Nice, innit?"
"Lovely," Lucius wheezed. His eyes watered.
"Wanna go sailin’? I packed me waders and oars.”
(This is not the full scene by any means - just his dialogue. Lucius (my prisoner/gladiator) has just met with the prison's "Mr Big" who wants him to do a task. Lucius refuses, but the Mr Big says: "You disappoint me, Lucius." At the door, Crusher is cracking his knuckles. So, there is no doubt what kind of river he wants Lucius to sail on).
Also, I'll obviously change Crusher's name. "Crusher" is hardly a Roman name, or even nickname. Let's see ... how about Cassius Primus Drusus Pugione? This translates as "Cassius the First, the Strong" with the nickname "Knife". A Latin version of Mac the Knife!)
Hmm -- question for you, =Tamar. So, I decided to call my spear-carrier "Spurius Primus" (literally translated as "First Bastard") -- just so I could close the scene with this exchange:
“I always wondered,” Benny said once Junius left. “I mean – Spurius Primus? First Bastard?”
“Let him who is without sin, and all that,” Lucius shrugged. Question is, how do I get out of this mess?
I know this is pretty close to a similar exchange in "Night Watch", which is why I thought of asking. Is it too close? If so, I can always drop this exchange and change his name to "Brutus Primus" or similar. What do you think?
You're overthinking it, Rath. If you want your Roman and Greek characters to mix English accents and slang go for it. Don't get hung up on linguistic authenticity. And use whatever names you want. Hell, if when Pterry was writing Colour of Magic he kept on saying, "Gosh, does this sound too much like I'm borrowing narrative tricks from Douglas Adams" the series would never have gotten off the ground.
Lindsey Davis is a writer of detective novels set in ancient Rome. She gives her characters modern vernacular, without losing the feel of ancient Rome and the people that live there. Seriously a great series of books to read.