Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The hectagon of evil

I did not like history much when I was in school and did not particularly shine at the subject as a result. It seemed like a jumble of guys, none born in a year easy to remember, that constantly fought and bickered about all and nothing. The endless maps of the acient world with arrows showing how this old nation or that flooded over its neighbors. I cringe at the mere thought. The only parts that held any interest to me were the bits where the water wells seemed to have laced with drugs and people were doing things where sanity has no calling. As they say: History is more fun when it is horrid.

My soon to turn sixteen year old daughter attends the same junior college as I did at her age. She is now studying the same history text book as I did at that age. Leafing through it now it seems quite clear that the boring manner in which the development of society and the human race is set forth must have had a lot to do with my lack of fondness. The part about the Romans as an example has a picture of a Roman coin. Who chose that as being depictive of what the Romans stood for? Maybe to save space. One a single page they manage to cram in five emperors, their wives and various other key players. A photo of the Colosseum would have cut this figure down by at least one emperor, one wife and two key players.

My daughter told me her favourite in the history book is the sections on the Roman gods and the Greek gods. I found this odd but when she told me why I understood. Gods do not have a birth year so there is less to remember.

I have decided to keep my mouth shut and not tell her how in three years she will be forced to learn by heart what parties have been in power in Iceland year by year since the establishment of the republic. Then she will look fondly back to the page with the five roman emperors, the five wives and the numerous key players. Not to mention the gods that lived timelessly.

Teenagers are actually in some ways representatives of the old times, before Galileo to be exact. They do not conduct themselves in ways that imply that the earth revolves around the sun. Their view on the universe is that everything within it revolves around them. My daughter as an example expects my husband to read her history book in case she needs him to ask her questions from it in preparation for an exam. This way he will be sure to be on top of things and not have to read through the paragraphs over and over when trying to come up with a question. But it could be worse. So he read the book and knows his Romans. 

Dare I tell my daughter that her father and I will be away on her birthday in two weeks? Not really. Unless I can figure out a way of making it seem as if the trip has something to do with her and her studies. Which will be a cinch since I am going to Rome. I will tell her that her father really wants to get a hands on feel for the Romans so that he can ask really pointed questions come exam time in December.

In all honesty I am going there to promote a book: “Mi ricordo di te” – the one called: “I remember you” in English. Having never been to the eternal city, I can’t wait.

When the first Thóra book came out in Italy it was called “Circle de male” – loosely translated as: the circle of evil. I remember thinking how smart that was and how I had not thought of naming my series something with geometrical shapes. It would have saved me a lot of title worries – The circle of evil. The ellipse of evil. The triangle of evil. The rectangular of evil. The list is endless.

Yrsa - Wednesday


  1. Don't tell her. Just the two of you fly off and enjoy it certainly will enjoy you! Bravo, Yrsa.

  2. Hey, I'd buy a book called "The Dodecahedron of Evil!" Ancient Greeks thought the dodecahedron was mystical and kept it hidden.

    But as a series (about a topoligist that solves crimes?), you'd soon run out of easy shapes. Then it would be "The Mobius Strip of Evil" or "The Klein Bottle of Evil," and you'd have to spend several chapters just explaining the shapes.

  3. December is probably quite a good time to go to Rome, relatively tourist-free. Enjoy the food!

  4. It took me many years to discover how interesting history actually is - when you don't get taught it at school and you discover that exactly who lived exactly when is pretty unimportant!