Years blanked out in old stories

AE35Unit

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I've noticed this a lot with Poe's stories, I think Dickens did it too.
"At Paris, just after dark one gusty evening in the autumn of 18--, I was enjoying the twofold luxury of meditation "
Always seems odd to me
 

Teresa Edgerton

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Many authors of the period did that same thing. They also sometimes did it with the names of places and the titles of peers. "I was at B___ with the Earl of W_____."
 

Pyan

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At least blanking out the last two digits of the year protects the author from the Mr Pedantics of this world. You know the ones -
"You state that your story is set in 1885, yet on page 237, you mention the new moon rising on April 12th, whereas the most cursory study of the almanac will confirm that the new moon in April of that year didn't occur until the 15th of that month..."
 

Teresa Edgerton

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At least blanking out the last two digits of the year protects the author from the Mr Pedantics of this world. You know the ones -
"You state that your story is set in 1885, yet on page 237, you mention the new moon rising on April 12th, whereas the most cursory study of the almanac will confirm that the new moon in April of that year didn't occur until the 15th of that month..."

Not to mention freeing the authors from having to do a lot of tedious research to protect themselves from this sort of nit-picking. (Because, to take your example, some year in the nineteenth century the moon must have been full on the 12th of April.) It may also have been a way of preventing the story from becoming dated too quickly.

Or ... I don't know ... since the stories that do this seem to be mostly or all written in the first person, to give the sense that the narrator is being discreet about the actual year when those shocking occurrences (therein related) took place, so as to avoid tainting innocent individuals with the suspicion that they might have taken part. And by the narrator pretending to veil the truth in this way, the idea might arise in the minds of readers that the story might in fact be true in its essentials.
 

AE35Unit

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In the story I took this from one of the characters is simply written as D—. Why I've no idea. It was a very dull story too (The Purloined Letter)
 

Randy M.

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Or ... I don't know ... since the stories that do this seem to be mostly or all written in the first person, to give the sense that the narrator is being discreet about the actual year when those shocking occurrences (therein related) took place, so as to avoid tainting innocent individuals with the suspicion that they might have taken part. And by the narrator pretending to veil the truth in this way, the idea might arise in the minds of readers that the story might in fact be true in its essentials.
This. Modern equivalents are TV voice overs along the line of, "The events you are about to see are real. The names have been changed to protect the innocent." Uh huh.
 

Ursa major

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D—. Why I've no idea. It was a very dull story too (The Purloined Letter)
It seems to me that more than just one letter was probably purloined.... :rolleyes:

Oh, and as Wikipedia's article on the short story points out (dates can be an issue):
It first appeared in the literary annual The Gift for 1845 (1844) and soon was reprinted in numerous journals and newspapers.
 

M. Robert Gibson

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Using my superpower, I've found an article and a couple of potential answers to this perplexing question



 

Swank

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This. Modern equivalents are TV voice overs along the line of, "The events you are about to see are real. The names have been changed to protect the innocent." Uh huh.
I think this is it. To add an element of realism.
 

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