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Errors of the Great Authors
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As most writers do, Mary and I agonize over possible errors whether typographical, logical, or factual. While preparing our first Byzantine mystery, One for Sorrow, for publication we spent a nightmarish week trying to untangle the time line. Being novices, we had failed to keep track of things sufficiently. It's amazing what can happen when you write bits and pieces out of order and try to stick them together. For example, you don't want a character discussing Empress Theodora's perfidy the day after he's been found dead in the cisterns under the Great Palace. When a new book appears we are anxious in case readers discover some ridiculous authorial blunder.

All writers make mistakes. Toward the end of Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment I was startled to be yanked out of the suspenseful climax by a note from translator Constance Garnett. The unfortunate incident occurred just as the protagonist Raskolnikov arrives at the police station. (I am trying not to give any spoilers here.)

"You've come to see us? What about?" cried Ilya Petrovitch. He was obviously in an exceedingly good humour and perhaps a trifle exhilarated. "If it's on business you are rather early.[*] It's only a chance that I am here... however I'll do what I can. I must admit, I...what is it, what is it? Excuse me...."

[*] Dostoevsky appears to have forgotten that it is after sunset, and that the last time Raskolnikov visited the police office at two in the afternoon he was reproached for coming too late.--TRANSLATOR.
You would think that so great a writer as Dostoevsky would have remembered what time it was. In the first sentence of the chapter he had plainly stated, " was already getting dark." Perhaps he had been as caught up in Raskolnikov's tortured musings as was Raskolnikov himself. Or perhaps Dostoevsky was just a terrible proof reader.

Whatever the explanation, it makes me happy to know that old Fyodor and I share a talent for making stupid writing mistakes.

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