I keep a list of things I want to research and sometimes that research makes its way to a blog post. One of the things on my list was to find out, if time travel were possible, how far into the past could you go and still understand the English being spoken. As sometimes happens in life, that question was answered in one of the HNN (History News Network) newsletters that I receive via email.
People have long been fascinated by the idea of time travel. Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court was published in 1889. The Time Machine by H.G. Wells was published in 1895. One of the most famous is Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, published in 1991, which is now a television series. You can use your favorite search engine to check out “time travel novels” for a taste of what’s available. My personal favorite is Lightning by Dean Koontz, published in 1988.
And don’t forget movies. It’s amazing how many movies include time travel. From the Back to the Future series to the Terminator series to the Hot Tub Time Machine movies, there is something for everyone. Although my taste in movies usually depends on my mood and the people I’m with, my current personal favorite is About Time, released in 2013.
One of the best things about time travel in storytelling is that there are no hard and fast rules. The storyteller gets to decide if the traveler uses a time machine, a portal found in nature, or just plain old magic. The storyteller gets to decide how to deal with the concept of paradox and whether changing the past is allowed in the world they create. The possibilities are endless.
Life would be easier for historians if time travel was possible. Imagine being able to experience and finally KNOW the answers to some of history’s greatest mysteries. But history wouldn’t be as much fun, in my opinion, without some mystery.
But what’s the answer to the original question, you ask? HNN’s Video of the Week, at only 2 minutes and 36 seconds, takes the viewer through some centuries-long steps back in time. The dividing line seems to be Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, written in the late 14th century. This would render the 2001 movie A Knight’s Tale totally incomprehensible, but hopefully the music would still be good.
Feel free to share with the group. Do you have a favorite time travel story? Or, if you could, where and when would you travel and why? Past or future?