Dammit. “Idealist” is an anachronistic word for the period, and in its earliest usage, it referred to a specific philosophy. “Optimist” is also out-of-period. “Utopian” is not, but it doesn’t mean quite the same thing as “idealist,” and that’s the word I really want.
The answer to this, of course, is to say “to hell with the OED” and use the word anyway. I doubt anyone not reading this journal would ever notice the word in the novel and think, that’s anachronistic. But having established this principle in my prose, I’m remarkably unwilling to surrender it.
Maybe this will be the corollary to the use of “medieval” in Midnight Never Come. There just wasn’t a word in use back then that efficiently conveyed the period I was trying to reference, so I finally gave up and used it.
Yes, I do obsess this much. But most of you are not surprised. Those who are, are probably new to this journal.