Wikipedia defines serendipity as “the effect by which one accidentally discovers something fortunate, especially while looking for something else entirely.”
According to the Wikipedia entry it’s also one of the top ten hardest words to translate.
I’m writing a short story set in 18th century Revolutionary France and it’s been serendipitous how articles, books and movies I’ve needed for my research have just magically appeard. Well, perhaps, not magically but certainly conveniently.
I know, for example, that basing one’s research on historical movies is usually a not-so-good idea because, as we know, historical movies are usually not historically accurate.
However, there’s nothing like watching a movie set in a time you’re writing about (if it’s a movie with a high production value, of course) to at least see what people wore, what houses they lived in, how they traveled, etc.
I picked up a DVD from the library of the 1938 version of Marie Antoinette starring Norma Shearer and Tyrone Power. It’s a shame the movie was in black and white. The costumes were gorgeous! As was a very young Tyrone Power.
However, last night, as I was unable to sleep due to an earache, I happened to catch The Affair of the Necklace , which came out in 2000 and starred Hillary Swank, Adrian Body and Simon Baker, and it just so happened to be about Marie Antoinette and the infamous Affair of the Diamond Necklance. That movie was in color but the costumes were nowhere near as gorgeous as the 1938 movie.
But my point is that it was rather serendipitous, or at least I thought so, that The Affair of the Necklace just happened to be on a mere hours after I had watched Marie Antoinette.
Or maybe it was just coincidence. I wonder? Is serendipity just a fancy way of saying coincidence?