kate: Kate Winslet is wryly amused (Default)
[personal profile] kate
And it always makes me pised off (at myself) when people talk about Doylist vs. Watsonian interpretations of anything because I don't know what the fuck they're on about. Anyone want to try and explain this to me in short, simple sentences?

on 1/11/16 04:20 am (UTC)
recessional: bare-footed person in jeans walks on log (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] recessional
It comes from the actual Sherlock Holmes original stories, and has to do with the fact that Watson-as-narrator says shit in them that is just plain factually wrong.

So then the question becomes: is it wrong because Doyle was ignorant of the subject (aka is it authorfail), or is it wrong because while Doyle is quite well informed on the topic, Watson was ignorant and talking out of his ass (aka is it characterisation).

So Doylist refers to looking at issues of the text from outside, from the perspective of considering what the author does and doesn't know, or what their agenda might be, or so on.

Whereas Watsonian refers to looking at the text only in context of the text - ie in the case of the original, accepting the proposition that Watson is in fact a Victorian man of his background - and looking for explanation there.

So a Doylist approach to, say, figuring out why there are no characters with mentioned dark skin in LotR would focus on Tolkien and Tolkien's prejudices and inclinations and so on. Whereas a Watsonian one would focus on the fact that, in-world, LotR is an actual book (the Red Book) that was written by the hobbits and annotated by the Gondorians and is thus logically focused on the goings-on of their locale, and the people in those locales, and for in-world political reasons there's not a lot of traffic between the places with people with dark skin and the places where the hobbits etc were.

on 1/11/16 07:42 pm (UTC)
recessional: bare-footed person in jeans walks on log (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] recessional

I forgot to mention that it's also useful the other way around - sometimes a character will say or do something and one is like "wtf no horse person would EVER say that" (for example), and you just can't possibly make it jive with what the rest of the characterisation is supposed to be . . . well, the error is probably Doylist, in that for example the AUTHOR probably knows a lot less than s/he thinks he does about that subject.

Which in some ways is why it came up so much in Arthur Conan Doyle's work that it provided the names, honestly: Conan Doyle was so ignorant about so much of the stuff that he worked into his Holmes stories particularly that you really are left with the problem of, so do I accept these errors as Watson's, thus making Watson kind of an ignorant idiot, or do I assume they were Doyle's, and that Watson would (within the rules of his own world) actually know about basic medical facts that were known by physicians at the time, and just sort of mentally edit them as we consider the character?

on 1/12/16 01:01 am (UTC)
recessional: bare-footed person in jeans walks on log (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] recessional
ME TOO. I think in this particular case being AWARE of one's own potential ignorance helps a lot? But yeah really my entire enterprise is often focused on "oh god do not be like $author, we do not want to be like $author . . . "

on 1/11/16 11:51 am (UTC)
misbegotten: Jeremy Brett in profile, black and white (Holmes Brett in Profile)
Posted by [personal profile] misbegotten
Ah, thank you for the Tolkien analogy. That's very helpful!

on 1/11/16 07:44 pm (UTC)
recessional: bare-footed person in jeans walks on log (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] recessional
The movies also provide an example of it going the other way around (the characters would definitely know the thing, but the creator doesn't), in that Jackson so painfully clearly had no idea, whatsoever, in any way at all, how pre-firearm warfare worked. Even a little bit.

Which means on-screen he has all the relevant characters being the worst tacticians in the history of tactics for what they have and what they're working with, and you just sort of have to . . . fix that massive Doylistic fail in your head.

(Similarly, one just has to pretend that Theoden's actor is not sitting in his saddle like not just a sack of potatoes but a sack of potatoes with a particularly bad seat that has never ridden a horse before. . . . >.>)

on 1/12/16 03:14 am (UTC)
akamine_chan: Created by me; please don't take (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] akamine_chan
Thanks for this clear and concise explanation!

on 1/11/16 02:03 pm (UTC)
princessofgeeks: (elementary by canarypaper)
Posted by [personal profile] princessofgeeks
I see recessional fixed you right up!
havocthecat: the lady of shalott (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] havocthecat
I know what they mean (and other people have explained it here), but it annoys me when people talk about Doylist vs. Watsonian because it is actually rather exclusionary to anyone who hasn't heard those terms and had them explained. And a whole lot of people haven't heard those terms.

Mostly I wish there was a more intuitive set of terms for Doylist and Watsonian because I get into this sort of discussion with Mr. Havoc and other non-fandom friends who do not have this vocabulary baked into them from fandom, and I would like to have an easy term to use that is a) recognizable universally and b) does not involve me making convoluted explanations of whether I'm talking about something from the author's outside perspective or the character's perspective inside the fictional universe and c) related to IC and OOC for the gamer friends I talk about shit like this with.
recessional: bare-footed person in jeans walks on log (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] recessional
It is actually much more a lit-education thing.

As in, I actually encountered it in uni, from a completely unfannish lit prof, years before I ever saw it used by anyone in fandom. It does have its roots in really really oldschool Holmesian circles, as in the ones prior to any concept of "fandom" that could be applied globally, but the crossover between those and English Lit studies were (and are) quite broad.
Edited on 1/11/16 07:37 pm (UTC)
trobadora: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] trobadora
The distinction exists in lit studies, of course, but the terms "Watsonian" and "Doylist" are fannish. All you have to remember is that Watson is the character and Doyle is the author. :)

(And it's a lot more transparent than terms like "Jossed"!)
montanaharper: close-up of helena montana on a map (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] montanaharper
I don't know about more intuitive, but you could always use the non-fandom terms extradiegetic and intradiegetic, if SH-centric terms confuse things.
havocthecat: the lady of shalott (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] havocthecat
I'm talking about conversation with laypeople, not academics, so probably not. Thanks, though.

on 1/12/16 10:23 pm (UTC)
silverflight8: bee on rose  (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] silverflight8
I like Watsonian and Doyalist but I definitely think using "in universe explanation vs authorial explanation" would be much more transparent to everyone.


kate: Kate Winslet is wryly amused (Default)


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