I’m studying for the GRE-Literature, and this is one of the few things Wordsworth said that I agree with:
Hence I have no doubt, that, in some instances, feelings even of the ludicrous may be given to my Readers by expressions which appeared to me tender and pathetic. Such faulty expressions, were I convinced they were faulty at present, and that they must necessarily continue to be so, I would willingly take all reasonable pains to correct. But it is dangerous to make these alterations on the simple authority of a few individuals, or even of certain classes of men; for where the understanding of an Author is not convinced, or his feelings altered, this cannot be done without great injury to himself: for his own feelings are his stay and support, and, if he sets them aside in one instance, he may be induced to repeat this act till his mind loses all confidence in itself, and becomes utterly debilitated.
—William Wordsworth, 1802
The more I write, the more I feel that “Oh, but it’s a fantasy world! You’re not actually depicting any real cultures” is not at all useful or productive. For one, if you can’t see the connection between something like Lord of the Rings or A Song of Ice and Fire and medieval West Europe, I don’t know what to say to you. They are not direct depictions, but they are very, very evidently rooted in history and culture—and the baggage that comes with them.
It’s true that the connecting fibres are much thinner for some works than others, but while most are certainly not on the scale of Middle-earth or Westeros, many follow in that kind of tradition. In my day job (such as it is), I study the early Renaissance in western Europe along with the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in Britain, and those interests constantly pervade my fiction. I did as much historical research for the first chapter of The Timewalker as for straightforward historical fiction, because most aspects absolutely are drawn straight from history.
At the same time, of course, it is a fantasy and a secondary world, and those are never going to be directly analogous.
He was an old man who had lived a great life. Still, it’s a shock. I don’t even know what to think. Wherever he is, if anywhere, I hope he has peace.
It’s hard to think of him in the same sentence as David Bowie, but they’re both people I never imagined would die. What a year.