Nostalgia Sells

I have no idea if this is true or not, but McSorleys clearly think it is.

Quality Libations

Quite a few people in these parts would not know the word ‘libation’ if it changed itself into a haddock and slapped them in the face, and most of those who do know it are over seventy. Yet here it is in all its glory and, I’m guessing, it is thought to suggest quality. And no doubt the same is true of ‘sustenance’.

But Armstrong and Son has more reason to call themselves an emporium, since they sell clothing from, or modeled on, the clothing of years gone by.

Armstrong's Emporium - Web

 Armstrongs 2Armstrongs 3

Are authors who write historical fiction tapping into a nostalgic vein? I’m thinking here of fiction set in the Victorian or Edwardian periods rather than further back. I am tempted to write like this myself so that I could ‘pen’ lines such as:

‘I don’t believe a word of it,’ Philpott asseverated stoutly.

14 thoughts on “Nostalgia Sells

  1. I’m a sucker for older words – love’em!

    I think (previous) period fiction – historical or otherwise – does tap into nostalgic tendencies, but that the best use such distance, as do the best in SF and Fantasy, to examine contemporary issues and universal human connections and conundrums. With humour, too, of course (being the best.)

  2. I first came across ‘asseverated’ in a story by W W Jacobs, an author not much read now. The works of W W Jacobs were left to me by my grandfather, but failed to reach me as they were stolen by my father, a man for whom I have next to no respect. That’s communists for you.

  3. So are you tempted to set a novel in the past, at a time when such words were commonly used? I am assuming that if you were, you would restrict them to dialogue. Tempted?

    • Tempted, should I write again, yes. Wouldn’t restrict to dialogue only, no. Would use sparingly, making sure context helps inform meaning, but would definitely use generally for atmosphere / feel of period. Love Georgette Heyer, who is a master at this – practically created her own language for Regency, drawing on past and making sure to stay clear for present, so that reade is steeped in period without being over-saturated.

      • You already have a completely worked out approach, and very good it is too.
        I look forward to the first volume (you’re not allowed to write just one any more).
        See you tomorrow!

  4. Oooh, that’s a wonderful word–‘asseverated’. Had to look it up. I love historic fiction, but only done well. That requires exactly what you’re talking about.

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