|Poster ridiculously drawn by B.C. Matthews while hanging out in Speakeasies.|
Here I am taking a quick break from writing by...writing. I know. I'm a masochist.
So, I recently took a break from short story writing and watched the flick "Midnight in Paris" written and directed by Woody Allen. I have to admit that had I known ahead of time that Allen wrote it, I probably would have said, "Nah, I'll pass." While I didn't much care for the movie beyond the lit major joy I got out of all the early 20th century writer and artist name dropping, there was one point that interested me.
The characters travel through time to an earlier "Golden Era" of their imagination. Basically an escapist romantic time that is much better than whatever current present you might be in. For the main character it was 1920's Paris. For a character of that 1920's Paris, her chosen "Golden Era" was La Belle Époque.
Generally, I have several eras that I have dabbled in, and even created alternate histories for. And I have other authors to blame for that. Though honestly I would never actually want to live there, considering my body's predilection for getting pneumonia, and the fact that I am classless, tasteless, and vulgar.
1. The Napoleonic Era (roughly late 1790s to 1815): I have C.S. Forester, Patrick O'Brien, and Naomi Novik to thank for my interest in things naval, and Napoleon. While these books are written from the non-French point-of-view (considering that Napoleon was doing a lot of conquering at musket and sword point) it is because of these authors that I find it all quite dashing. Those handsome uptight gentleman forced to be both the gentleman of means, and warriors. There is a sense of both civilized warfare, and the brutal truth that war is ugly no matter how you slice it.
2. The Victorian Era and La Belle Époque (most of the 1800s from 1815 on): Steampunk has quite ruined my brain. It generally takes the more romantic elements of the Victorian Era and imbues it with fun science fiction-fantasy bits to make it that much more interesting. Though most Steampunk authors I've read ignore the rampant prostitution, the poor class getting poorer, the fog of London, the ridiculousness of medicine and its view of women, the expanding views of mental health, the and other not-so fun bits of history, it still harkens back to the grandness of affluence. To grand ballroom dancing, to stuffy overly cautious etiquette, to visible wealth, to a time of great artists painting their new view of the world, of absinthe parties, and all of the romantic nonsense that I have grown to adore.
Yes, my NaNo novel was very Victorian. I don't think I would have written it if not for my recent (and first time) trip to Paris and the Musee D'Orsay, where finally seeing all those Impressionist paintings I'd seen in Art History class right up close and in person had a more profound effect on me than I thought.
More recently, there are a few eras that I've wanted to look into a little more:
Late Tokugawa Shogunate and Meiji Restoration-era Japan: I'd worry that whatever I wrote would be some horrible knock off of a Tom Cruise fueled The Last Samurai is a White Dude. Also, someone please tell me there is Steampunk writing about the Meiji Restoration. Please. If not I might be forced to write some. And it will not be pretty. It would require sooo much research.
Prohibition-era America: How can you not love the idea of Speakeasies? Silent films? The Charleston? Jazz?
So, what is your "Golden Era?" If you could go back in time to some romanticized past, what would it be?