We shouldn’t feel too bad about our mistakes, (which for me are plentiful, I go back to correct more than a few articles after I see them published.) Some of our best known writers made mistakes in our favorite classics, and we probably never noticed the errors. It doesn’t hurt my enjoyment at all. These are just a few of the errors found in our classical reading.
Some of our most famous writers did not check their facts. Embarrassing mistakes ( or they should have been) were made by Shakespeare, Daniel Defoe, John Keats and many others. The most well known guffaws follow.
In “Hamlet,” Shakespeare writes of Elsinore’s “beetling cliffs.” Elsinore has no cliffs.
In “Julius Caesar,” Shakespeare refers to a clock that strikes the hour, 1,400 years before it was invented.
Shakespeare calls Delphi an island in “Coriolanus,” it’s a city.
Crusoe swam without clothes to a wrecked ship, finds some biscuits and puts them in his pocket, in Daniel Defoe’s “Robinson Crusoe.”
In ” On first looking into Chapman’s Homer” Keats speaks of Cortez’s discovering the Pacific Ocean. He didn’t. Balboa did.
In Leo Tolstoy’s, “War and Peace,” Natasha is seventeen years old in 1805 and twenty four in 1809, aging seven years in four. Another mistake in the same story, Prince Andrei’s icon inexplicably changes in the novel from silver to gold.
In Sir Canon Doyle’s, “A Study in Scarlet” Sherlock Holmes’s assistant, Dr. Watson is said to have suffered a wartime bullet wound in the shoulder, but in ” The Sign of Four,” The wound is said to be in the leg.
In “Ivanhoe,” by Sir Walter Scott, one character has two different first names, At one point, Malvosin’s first name is Richard, another time it’s Philip.
In Vergil’s, “Aeneid” Chorinaeus and Numa die, and later reappear without any mention of their deaths.
In “Don Quixote” written by Miguel de Cervantes, Sancho Panza sells his donkey, then is seen riding him again with no explanation given. Later Sancho loses his wallet, only to be shown using it again, no explanation given.
The most embarrassing error of all was made in London in 1631. An authorized edition of the bible was published that caused a huge commotion. After it came off the presses, it was found to have left the word “not” out. It told the reader,”Thou shalt commit adultery.”