Thursday, 27 February 2014

The Literary Heroine Blog Party 2014

It's that time of the year again and Kellie is holding the Literary Heroine Blog Party again. I participated only half-heartedly last year, so this year I want to be better about it.

But before I do that, I want to share yet another American Duchess giveaway, because it concides nicely with it - her shoes are definitely worthy of literary heroines (some are even named after literary places, after all).

The usual statement still applies - is she ever making shoes I don't like?! Well, okay, I don't like the Pompadours so much, they're too something for me... and since I don't like buttons, I'm not that mad about the buttoned boots either... but still, oh, I love her overall modern-historical aesthetics so much and wish all shoes were like that.

And now, finally, to the questionnaire! I tried to do a mostly new version this time, though it hearkens back to the previous ones.

Introduce yourself! Divulge your life's vision, likes, dislikes, aspirations, or something completely random!
I am, I think, something called “an eternal student”. I love learning things... I love language(s). I would like to be – already am, in one sense – a translator. And an interpreter, even though that’s really hard work. (By the way, it seems I really made it to the interpreting course, yay!) I like learning about different cultures and sharing tidbits about my own.
I like reading, and books, and this means physical books, too; and I have more books than I can fit on my shelves and still can think of books I would like to have.
I like writing, too. And I have this strong editorial streak, noticing typos and stuff, so I guess that’s why I ended up volunteering as an editor for my church’s youth magazine.
And I love creating, all kinds of things. Writing falls in there, too, but there is of course sewing; and I'm doing at least little bits of drawing once more (I had a years long artist's block in that area and am glad that I'm finally able to draw again, if only little sketches).

What, to you, forms the essence of a true heroine?
As I said the first time, being good / doing good things, and the ability to learn if she happens to be not that good.

Share (up to) four heroines of literature that you most admire and relate to.
Beside those I’ve mentioned before, there was the heroine from Silver Rose / Green Brigade, who happens to be the only (not historical) character in the book whose name I remember – Leslie. She was more of the kind of heroine I wished I were more like. She was brave, even bold at times, she was also loyal, and clever and thinking on her feet. Bravery and thinking on my feet seemed, and still seem, like things I could use more of.
Out of those already mentioned, I think I’ve always related most to Dorothea Callum / Dot, from her writing and making up of stories down to her braids (and now that I’m older, also to her imperfect attempts at housekeeping in Picts and Martyrs).

Five of your favourite historical novels?
Beside those shared before:
The book by Gerd Theissen that was apparently published as The Shadow of the Galilean: The Quest of the Historical Jesus in Narrative Form in English – I love how it combines the story with the research and reasoning behind it; I always start out reading it rather unimpressed and end up really moved.
Speaking of combining story and research, I love probably all the Cadfael books (certainly those I’ve read so far). Ellis Peters / Edith Pargeter knows a lot about England and Wales in the 12th century, so even though these are detective stories, you get a good idea of the times and places, too.
Speaking of medieval and detective stories, I’ve also enjoyed a Czech one, Zločin na Zlenicích hradě L.P. 1318 (The Crime at the Zlenice Castle 1318 A.D.), by Radovan Šimáček. I have to throw at least one Czech book here! And I’m always surprised just how good this one is. (I think a proof of the cleverness of the crime part might be the fact that I can’t remember whodunnit and howdunnit, yet I perfectly remember being enthralled by the story.)
The Czar’s Madman by Jaan Kross – that’s a rather tragic story, all in all, which I tend not to enjoy, but it’s so well-written... and deserves even more recognition in the world than it seems to be getting, I think, because it manages to cover so many grounds with its story, as excellent literary works do.
I can't think of a fifth one. I'm sure there's something yet that I'm forgetting, but that's how it goes. There are many of the Cadfael books, so I guess that balances it out. :P

Out of those five books who is your favourite major character and why?
Probably Cadfael; but I’m not sure if it’s not cheating when there are actually many books with him as the main character. :-)
I like that he's caring and understanding, I like that he's Welsh (ha!); and knowledgeable and using his knowledge for good. I like that, similarly to Father Brown, he is a detective who cares for the culprits' souls, too. 
(I also like the portrayal by Derek Jacobi a lot!)

Out of those five books who is your favourite secondary character and why?
Absolutely, without question, Hugh Beringar. :D I always like good, strong friendships in the stories I read, and Hugh is a good friend to Cadfael, a good husband to Aline (though she does not appear that often), a good (deputy) sheriff for Shropshire, and a very good character to read about!
I love how he's clever, even cunning; yet honourable. His cunningness makes him consider unconventional approaches, which is a good thing for a detective (and he seems to be more of a detective than sheriffs tended to be at the time, at least that's the picture painted by Peters).
(I also like the portrayal by Sean Pertwee in the first season of the series a lot. Aside from the tiny detail that Hugh is supposed to be a dark-haired Norman, Sean Pertwee is perfect in the role.)

Yeah. A Literary Heroine Blog Party, and I pick heroes, and post a picture of heroes. Bear with me, please. I think Eeva in The Czar's Madman is a really admirable woman as well, they way she tries hard to rise above both her peasant background without losing contact with it, and the little minds surrounding her in her new station in life, and the way she sticks to her husband through thick and thin; but I don't have a picture of her. :D

If you were to plan out your dream vacation, where would you travel to - and what would you plan to do there?
I think, at the moment, I would love to go back to Estonia and explore more of it. Go to Saaremaa and the coast, and to Peipsi järv (the large lake in the east)...

The beautiful botanical gardens in Tartu - a place where surely a heroine could find herself...

... and while I’d be there, I’d like to revisit the places I’ve been to before in the Baltics, and also see more of Riga because despite being in Latvia several times, I’ve only seen a small part of its largest city.

A little manor house or something, at a lake near Trakai, Lithuania, where we were in 2006 (as you can see, it was boarded up); photo by my father

Plus Wales. Always Wales. I’m even liking Welsh accents now.

Because how can you not love this landscape?! Again, photo by my father, who's been to Wales four or how many times, while I've never been. I don't know when this photo was taken, but I hear when father's friends visited later, the old church / chapel was already in ruins...

What is your favourite time period and culture to read about?
I honestly don’t know now. I just lap up nearly anything that is connected to my English studies...? And in my free time, beside that, I just read what I’ve always enjoyed, and that has always been somewhat eclectic, too...

You have been invited to perform at the local charity concert. Singing, comedy, recitation - what is your act comprised of?
Singing in a choir, or maybe acting with other people – probably not comedy, because I always kill my jokes by laughing first. :-)

If you were to attend a party where each guest was to portray a heroine of literature, who would you select to represent?
Phew! I’m out of ideas. Or maybe I have too many ideas...
With the sewing ideas and plans I have, maybe I’d be Lenka from Filosofská historie, to make use of the planned 1848 costume. I do not exactly relate to her in my life situation, but I guess I have similar interests to what I know she does (reading and sewing and enjoying the nature and, well, the Czech language, too), so that would be easier to imitate.

What are your sentiments on the subject of chocolate?
Dark chocolate is delicious. And cocoa. Milk chocolate tends to be too sweet for me, but dark chocolate, also with various flavours, is one of the most fantastic things ever invented.
Hot chocolate, too. Aah, hot chocolate!

Favourite author(s)?
C. S. Lewis
J. R. R. Tolkien
Ellis Peters :-)
G. K. Chesterton
I guess I can safely say Jane Austen now, too...
And I’m enjoying Shakespeare more and more, although more often in film form than any other for some reason. :D

Besides essentials, what would you take on a visiting voyage to a foreign land?
My camera. Probably a sketchbook and pencils, too. If I travelled by train, maybe even some sewing.

The old teddy no longer travels with me, because he’s so worn he could fall apart soon, and I don't want that. But I might take the newest one, this Canadian teddy I got from my sister for last Christmas. He’s called George, after Constable George Crabtree from Murdoch Mysteries – that’s a Canadian detective series that takes place in Toronto at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries (apparently originally based on some books, too); and George looks a bit like the Constable (who's played by Jonny Harris and is both hilarious and absolutely adorable).

In which century were most of the books you read written?
Still the 20th, despite my attempts to learn more of authors from other centuries...
... I've also been reading quite a lot of medieval literature recently, but that covers many centuries.

In your opinion, the ultimate hero in literature is…
Weeell, beside those already mentioned here and elsewhere...
... I’m also getting to appreciate Peter Pevensie; I think because he’s so far removed from me in the sibling constellation, it took appreciating the more “developed” John Walker to appreciate Peter. (They have a lot in common.)
And in the area of Austenian heroes, I’m always in love with Mr Knightley and Mr Tilney, both – I think my ideal is somewhere in between them. Mr Knightley, as Natasha Marie rightly commented on a Pin, is the perfect gentleman, and not afraid to speak his mind, which I greatly admire; but sometimes he could use more of Mr Tilney’s simple joy in life, I think. And Mr Tilney is definitely fun to be around, and he acts on his principles instead of (just) talking about them like some others, which I also greatly admire; but sometimes, he should talk about them more, like Mr Knightley. So I guess in that way they’re not exactly my candidates for “the ultimate hero”, but in the realm of flawed human heroes, they are definitely worth mentioning.
PLUS I love Faramir. I love that he’s tempted and resists the temptation, and I love the patient relationship he forms with Éowyn.
And someone else also mentioned Sam Gamgee (sorry I don't remember which of the many participants that was!), and while I tend not to think of him because I tend not to like the parts of The Lord of the Rings where he gets to shine, I like him when he gets to shine. :-) And I also just like him at the beginning where he is the wide-eyed novice to travelling, and at the end of the book when he comes back to his family. I very, very much like that the book ends with that.

Describe your ideal dwelling place.
Here I go back to my old description, because that's what it is:
A house. With a garden. At the outskirts of a town, with a forest nearby. In the Bohemian-Moravian Highlands, because that’s my favourite part of my country (and I cannot imagine living anywhere else than the Czech Republic).
It’s probably from the turn of the 20th century. It has big windows and lots of light, but still rather thick walls that keep the warmth inside in winter.
It has bedrooms in the attic, with walls lined with wood.
It has a roomy kitchen equipped in light wood. (So that I am forced to clean it regularly.)
It has a cool pantry.
It has a room dedicated only to my sewing.
It has a big library.

And I have a Pinterest board of pictures that cover some aspects of it, too, for those of you who are more visual. (I'm both.)

Sum up your fashion style in a short sentence.
It is historically and vintage inspired - or outdated, depending on your point of view; and very eclectic with occasional classy peaks.
(I guess that's a bit longer than short. I can't do short.)

The coat and the hat are definitely the vintage-y classy peaks. The lace-up boots and barely visible corduroy trousers underneath are the eclectic part.

Have you ever wanted to change a character’s name?
As I said, naming a semi-villain in a Sherlock Holmes story A. Dvorak was a really bad and lazy choice on A. C. Doyle’s part.
(And, outside of names, I’m also a bit allergic to Prague being used as the mysterious city where dubious chemical-related things happen at that time in history. There were probably some dubious things happening, like in other cities, but as far as I know, the days of alchemists in Prague happened in the 16th or 17th century, not at the end of the 19th century... I suppose I can’t expect better from the man who ignored the political situation of the time and made up the King of Bohemia as well.)
So in my mind, his name is actually F. Lischka and he lives in Vienna.

In your opinion, the most dastardly villain of all literature is...
Hmm... after the previous rant I’m tempted to say “Professor Moriarty”, but the thing is, he is not as much of an archvillain as the adaptations make him out to be, even though he is definitely very dangerous and very clever and very bad.
I’m still sticking to Iago, because I cannot think of any other character that undermines the other characters’ (ahem) characters in such a way.

Three favourite Non-fiction books? 
(If the question were “least favourite”, I just may have to say the MLA handbook. Because I always forget about some part of the MLA formatting; and after the years of struggling to keep up with it, I will probably have to use a different format for my thesis anyway.)

I enjoy most of C. S. Lewis’ non-fiction in general; my favourite is probably The Four Loves – I even used that one for school two times, years apart. :D
As mentioned previously, Das Traumcafé einer Pragerin by Lenka Reinerová is a really delightful slim book of memories about various interesting people. I can read it in about an hour and a half, so it makes for a really nice mood-making read, if you know what I mean. :-)
And on a completely different note, I’m very fond of An Illustrated History of Britain. It’s also a slim volume that somehow manages to give a really good overview of British history (though with a definite bias for England).

Your duties met for the day, how would you choose to spend a carefree summer afternoon? 
Reading somewhere outdoors out of the sun but with light... or writing there... or walking in a forest, picking blueberries... visiting a chateau with family and friends... with a campfire and singing in the evening... all of the above.

Create a verbal sketch of your dream hat - in such a way as will best portray your true character. 
Once more, words shared before:
My hat is a wide-brimmed straw hat. It shades me from the sun, so that I keep cool in summer heats. It is also fun and pretty to look at, because the brim is embroidered with small flowers. They are ordinary but colourful flowers, daisies, poppies and cornflowers, entwined with ears of grain. It’s a summer hat, and brings summer back into shadier days.

Share the most significant event(s) that have marked your life in the past year.
Well, I already have those covered in the 2013 in review posts. :D Namely, Part 3.

Share the Bible passage(s) that have been most inspiring to you recently.
I'm not sure this qualifies as "most inspiring", but I was once more struck by the unusual connections in the passage on killing in the Sermon on the Mountain - this time suddenly noticing that it goes straight from saying that whoever, you know, speaks badly of someone will end up badly, to the idea that if you realise someone's got something against you, you should sort it out first... and I suddenly wondered, does that mean we have to think about their spiritual health as well? It ends with a suggestion we have to sort out our guilt in the quarrel to save ourselves, but now I think that does not quite cover everything that preceeds it...


  1. Hi Hana. I linked to your page from Kellie's blog and I really enjoyed reading your answers. My Czech on my mom's side (my grandfather's surname is Dvorak) and would love to visit Prague one day. :) I saw you mentioned Ellis Peters twice. What type of books does she (? I'm assuming she's a she) write? I've never heard of her.

    1. Hi, Jessie! I'm glad you enjoyed them; they got a bit overlong. :-)
      Well, well, well, would you look at that! :D May I suggest visiting far more than Prague once you're here? I'm trying to cover some interesting places on this blog, and there are more to come. ;-) (We also have lovely countryside; as apparent from my answers, I love the Bohemian-Moravian Highlands. There are some places definitely worth visiting there, too, outside of the places I mentioned here, like the Pernštejn Castle or the baroque monastery on Zelená Hora. ;-)

      The books I've read by Ellis Peters were books from the Cadfael series of detective stories set in 12th century Shrewsbury and around it. Cadfael is a monk in the Benedictine monastery there, but before he became a monk, he'd been to the Holy Land and travelled around and learned a lot about herbs, so now he is the herbalist and heals people, and sometimes gets involved in their lives more than the other monks have a chance to. And he gets involved in various detective cases that he can't help solving.
      There is also the historical background - it was a time when there was a prolonged civil war in England; and the author was actually a medievalist, so when you read about a historical detail, you can be pretty sure it's true. Even some of the people are historical personages.
      And I really highly recommend the books. :-) They're quite beautifully written, too. I also discovered them thanks to a blog I read. :-)

    2. I would love to see more of the countryside if I get there. I've signed up to follow your blog so I can keep track of the places you talk about. My grandma is too old to travel overseas but I think she'd like to see the countryside. Ideally, I'd find where my grandfather's parents are from and start there. :)

      I'm adding Ellis Peters to my list of authors to read. Those sound really interesting and it's always better when you know that the author knows what they're talking about.

  2. Hani, ten snímek Emmy Thompson je scény filmu Rozum a cit, kterou mám moc ráda - kdy se Elinor dozví, že její láska je svobodná...Zjišťuji, že máme hodně podobný vkus asi nejen na knihy a filmy. Přeji Ti hodně pohody. :-)

    1. Díky!
      Ta scéna je taky moc vtipně (a přitom taky romanticky) parodovaná v jednom díle seriálu The Vicar of Dibley - The Handsome Stranger. ;-) Zajímavé je, že když jsem Rozum a cit viděla poprvé kdysi dávno, ještě před přečtením knížky, snad ještě jako dítě, mnohem víc jsem se ztotožňovala s Maryanne, ale čím jsem starší, tím je mi bližší Elinor. Není to moje nejoblíbenější knížka od Austenové, ale Elinor mám ráda.

    2. Ano, také v útlém mládí (plném nejsilnějších emocí) jsem byla jak Maryannne a s přibývajícími lety a zkušenostmi (možná i opatrností) oceňuji Elinor a snad do ní i dozrávám. :-) Austen a Brontë Charlotte jsem milovala od základní do střední školy a mám moc ráda Pýchu a předsudek i film.. Pa