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Tamriel - A Place with Literacy but no Learning? Trying to Solve a Book Problem

Aramithius
Aramithius
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Books are widely available in Tamriel, to the point where commoners will have them in their houses. This says to me that there's printing involved somewhere (apparently there are hints that the Miner Hireling invents Gutenberg-style movable type in ESO), but we have a whole variety of books that survive from ESO's time (2E 582) until Morrowind (3E 427). That's a lot of books that somehow remain relevant and read by most of the reading populous for 641 years.


I can understand that for holy texts like the 36 Lessons of Vivec or something, but when it includes reams of fiction (like the 2920 series or Chance's Folly), I have to wonder what on earth is going on with Tamriel's intellectual culture. I know the real world explanation is that the ES devs aren't able to write entire cultures worth of books for each game, but I'm wondering if it has lore implications.

Are we to assume that the majority of literature that is read is like something similar to Gibbons' History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (first published 1776, but still a common enough work)? If that's the case, then what on earth are the centres of learning doing? To produce so few additional texts strikes me as a culture that relies heavily on prior knowledge, without even trying to come up with more. In some cases, that could make sense (like in medicine, where Galen's work remained the core textbooks for thousands of years), but it gets downright weird for non-academic writing. To use yet more analogy, it's like saying that the seven Harry Potter books carry on being read and printed, but no one else tries to write books about witches and wizards for centuries after Rowling.

There is the other assumption that there are lots of works that we don't see, which I think is true to an extent (this is already strongly implied in instances like the Response to Bero's Speech, but not the Speech itself), but is this the whole answer? If not, what sort of an intellectual and publishing life does Tamriel have that's different to our own?
Host of the Written in Uncertainty podcast, and regular participant in the Selectives Lorecast.
Officer of the PC-EU chapter of the Loreseekers guild.
  • VaranisArano
    VaranisArano
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    There are lots of works we can't see, just like how the major cities of Tamriel aren't just a handful of buildings with a population of less than a hundred NPCs. We haven't had a 1 to 1 scale since Daggerfall, and even there no one tried to write all the books in Tamriel.

    I find it more likely that most of Tamriel's published books don't get remembered, just like how most books published before the last hundred years aren't really remembered. It's a very small percentage of books that are remotely notable - Sturgeon's Law at work.

    If you are a video game writer, you aren't going to get paid to write every book in Tamriel. You are going to write the important ones for the setting.

    I can think of several series off the top of my head that fit in the generic "wizards go to school" genre as Harry Potter, but unless one is a fan of the author, I doubt any of them are going to be notable enough to be read outside of their niche interest a hundred years from now. Harry Potter likely will be.


    And now I like to think of The Real Barenziah sparking a much less successful spin-off series, "The Real _________" with notable figures in Tamriel. Some collector somewhere has the full set, but most everyone agrees it was hack work imitating the success of the original. :lol:
  • Ratzkifal
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    A lot of this is very vague anyway. I don't think we have ever seen a place that prints and publishes books. But we do know that in Tamriel it's a culture thing that a majority of people write journals. The out of game explanation is of course so we players have something to find from which we can piece together what has happened to some dead NPC in a cave through their journal.

    I've actually been thinking about this issue myself because one of my characters is going to write a book on their research and I have no idea how they would go about publishing if we do not even know how books are being distributed in this world in the first place. Or why they would publish it if there is no money to be made there due to the lack of infrastructure. Yes, there are book stores, we do not know where the book store gets its books from!

    My guess is that the Empire has some sort of Imperial Printing Company and that some of the other provinces have similar institutions, but not all of them (Blackmarsh and Valenwood probably don't).
    This Bosmer was tortured to death. There is nothing left to be done.
  • Crazyprophet
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    I feel it sorta fits ESO at least.

    The Second Era post-Potentate, is kind of like the Dark Age of Tamriel. Populations have been decimated worldwide by the Knahaten Flu. Cyrodiil, while making attempts to cling to bastardised versions of the Reman Empire in the form of the Longhouse Emperors and Varen, is in a state of total collapse. The world's embroiled in a three-way war that's causing more harm than good to everyone, and higher-than-usual Daedric activity is also contributing to the state of chaos the world finds itself in.

    Right now, Tamriel is a mess and the production of new literature is hardly the priority. The preservation of the old, the idea of a golden age especially, might still be a priority for the nostalgic and scholarly to preserve.
  • Nomadic_Atmoran
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    Honestly I dont think theres much of a purpose for new material outside of expanding on things currently happening or waht has already happened.

    At the end of the day the point of the books are for us. And anything going into topics that are meant for the advancement of knowledge would likely draw attention from the lorebeards but not the everday gamer.
    Edited by Nomadic_Atmoran on June 1, 2021 1:11AM
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