salvēte iterum, amīcī! This is sort of a “bonus post” – I originally had planned to include it in the last one, but that became a bit too long. In thinking about characters, plots, and settings, and in thinking about the Tres Columnae metastory, I realize it’s all about creating a fictional world – a place where many stories are possible because there are so many interesting characters, places, and events. And I wanted to pay homage to the fictional worlds that inspired me, both as a child and as an adult.
At first, I was only thinking about historical-fiction worlds, since the Tres Columnae metastory is, in essence, a piece of historical fiction. As I think of my favorite works of historical fiction, I realize they’re my favorites because they create such a world – one that really feels like the time and place where they claim to be set. I think of works like
- the novels of Steven Saylor and Lindsey Davis, set in Rome around the time when Tres Columnae is happening;
- the archaic, classical, and Alexandrian Greek settings of Mary Renault’s novels like The King Must Die, The Last of the Wine, Fire from Heaven, The Persian Boy, The Mask of Apollo, and The Bull from the Sea (full disclosure: these were my mother’s favorite books, and I remember looking forward to the day when I’d be “old enough for them”);
- Johnny Tremain and The Witch of Blackbird Pond, respectively by Esther Forbes and Elizabeth George Speare, which brought colonial America to life for a much younger version of me;
- The Bronze Bow (also by Speare) and Island of the Blue Dolphins (by Scott O’Dell), which brought ancient times to life for that younger version of me;
- a very abbreviated “juvenile novelization” of the movie Ben-Hur (I’ve since seen and loved the movie, but I’ve still not read the whole original work);
- Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (by Mildred D. Taylor) and To Kill a Mockingbird (by Harper Lee) which both transported me to a sad time in the history of the United States; and
many others – too many to mention or even to list.
I also think of the works of fantasy and science fiction that created equally strong, but imaginary worlds for me:
- The Chronicles of Narnia and the Space Trilogy of C.S. Lewis;
- The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit of J.R.R. Tolkien;
- so many works by Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein (though, unlike a lot of people, I preferred his earlier work to the later books);
- Madeleine L’Engle’s books, especially what’s now sometimes known as the Time Quintet;
- Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain (oddly, Amazon can’t find a boxed set of these, though you can buy the five books individually)
- the Harry Potter books; and
- so many other books, too many to mention or even to recall.
And, of course, there were the Classical works that created such worlds in my imagination:
- The Odyssey and the Iliad;
- the Aeneid, especially Book II;
- Apuleius’ Metamorphoses;
- Vergil’s Georgics;
- some individual Odes of Horace, and Satire I.8 where he speaks in the voice of the scarecrow; and of course
- countless others that will come to mind as soon as I hit “Publish.” 😦
And then there are the movies, the plays, the TV series, and all the other works of art that have created such worlds in my imagination.
As a child and even as a teenager, I aspired to write something as powerful and meaningful as these books were to me. Now, with the Tres Columnae project, my goal has shifted: I want to create a place where lots of people can work together, creating things even more powerful and meaningful, and learning an amazing language and culture in the process.
quid respondētis, amīcissimī?
- How well have we done in creating an imaginary world here?
- Is that an appropriate goal? If not, what should we be doing with Tres Columnae?
- If so, are there ways to do it better?
- And how do we get learners – I started to say “young people,” but Tres Columnae is for learners of all ages – to join in this process of world creation?
We’ll return to these questions in a few days. But first I want to take a deeper look at the grammar, vocabulary, and cultural elements of this most recent story. (Plus, it really needs a title – any good ideas?) After all, Tres Columnae is a language learning system as well as a fictional world, so we do need to make sure we’re helping people learn and acquire the language, too.
Tune in next time, when we’ll take a closer look at linguistic elements like vocabulary and grammar in the story we just constructed together.