Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Historian Week 4 Questions and Discussion...

We are past the halfway point of The Historian Readalong!  It's been wonderful to see everyone's thoughts and ideas, and particularly, the enjoyment that everyone is experiencing as they go on this journey with Rossi, the narrator, and Helen and Paul -- all in search of the truth of Dracula.

It would be great to hear what questions or thoughts you have for the portion of the book we've read thus far.  If you've blogged about it, let me know as well so that I can highlight your post on this site -- we'll be able to jump on and comment on your post and insights!
  1. In Chapter 44, Helen's mother begins to tell her story.  It starts, "When I was a girl, I lived in the tiny village of P-- in Transylvania, very close to the Arges River."  The town name is omitted -- why do you think this is done?
  2. In Chapter 45, Rossi meets up with Georgescu outside of the Snagov Monastery.  Upon being introduced to the abbot of the monastery, Paul cannot kiss his ring as Georgescu does.  "I caught my name in the introductions and bowed to the monk as gracefully as I could, though I couldn't bring myself to kiss his ring."  Why is that?
  3. What areas of the book intrigued you so much that you don't want to miss out on discussing with the group?
  4. Let me know if you've blogged about it so we can highlight it on this site and we can jump on to comment on your posts!
"The land was beautifully green and fresh, and yellow-leaved willows hung over the streams that wound through it.  From time to time we rode into a village; sometimes I could pick out the onion cupolas of an Orthodox church among the other church towers."  (Chapter 43)
www.tour-central.com
From decafinata on Flickr and globalvoicesonline.org
"Helen leaned across me for a view, too. 'If we kept on this road, we'd reach Esztergom, the first capital of the Hungarian kings.  That's certainly worth seeing, if only we had the time.'"

Esztergom -- first capital of the Hungarian Kings from 10th to 13th centuries
"When you get to an opening in the forest -- we parked near a little restaurant of sorts with three boats drawn up behind it -- you look out across the lake to the island where the monastery lies, and there -- there at last -- you get a panorama that has surely changed little over centuries."  (Chapter 45)

Lake Snagov and Monastery
"The monastery was even lovelier up close, and rather forbidding, with its ancient walls and high cupolas, each crowned with an ornate seven-pointed cross."
Ed's Trip Site
Ed's Trip Site
"Dracula was not born here but in Transylvania, in a town called Sighisoara.  I won't have time to see it, but Georgescu has been there several time, and he told me that the house in which Dracula's father lived -- Vlad's birthplace -- still stands."  (Chapter 46)

Sighisoara
Vlad's Birthplace in Sighisoara
"Turgut smiled.  'Excellent questions, as usual, my young doubter.  Let me try to answer them.  As I told you, Selim knows the city very well, and when he found this letter and understood enough of it to see that it might be useful, he took it to a friend of his who is the keeper of the ancient monastery library at Saint Irine, which still exists."

Saint Irine Monastery Gates

Interior of Saint Irine
"The most remarkable of many remarkable sights we saw here today, as we prowled the old streets and ruins, was Dracula's watchtower, or rather a handsome restoration of it done in the nineteenth century.  Georgescu, like a good archaeologist, turns up his Scotch-Romany nose at restorations, explaining that in this case the crenellations around the top aren't quite right; but what can you expect, he asked me tartly, when historians begin using their imaginations?  Whether or not the restoration is quite accurate, what Georgescu told me about that tower gave me a shiver.  It was used by Vlad Dracula not only as a lookout in that era of frequent Turkish invasions but also as a vantage point from which to view the impalements that were carried out in the court below."  (Chapter 46)

Vlad Dracula's Watchtower
Yours in Profoundest Grief,

7 comments:

Beachreader said...

Thanks for including the pictures. I really enjoyed looking at them.

I'm not sure what to think of the past 100 pages. I want some action and keep waiting for the book to "take off." I did find the informaton regarding Turgut and Selim intriguing.

#1 I'm beginning to think that they never do kill Dracula and that they are keeping the names of towns and cities a secret to protect the innocent.

Heather J. said...

As always, great pictures. I agree with Beachreader ... things are getting a bit slow about now. I love all the historical detail, but there just isn't much going on at this point.

Care said...

How VERY cool! I love this literature & photos post.

Cat said...

I really enjoyed the past week's reading. Hearing Helen's mother's story and reading Rossi's letters left me feeling far more emotionally attached to the characters than I had been.
I agree though that the last pages have been a bit slow.

1. I thought that maybe because there are so many real places in the book the P... means this place is fictional.

2. If kissing the ring of a priest isn't part of the religion you're accustomed to then I would think it would be very uncomfortable having to acknowledge a belief that isn't yours. I wouldn't want to either!

3. Nothing specifically stands out - the whole journey is intriguing.

4. Normally I would have done some blog posts but haven't because of the Musashi readalong which I do have to do - I didn't think I could handle two.

Peppermint Ph.D. said...

In Chapter 44, Helen's mother begins to tell her story. It starts, "When I was a girl, I lived in the tiny village of P-- in Transylvania, very close to the Arges River." The town name is omitted -- why do you think this is done?

the author has done this a couple of times and it adds to the mystery and suspense for me...it catches my attention every time and makes me want to find out the secret!


In Chapter 45, Rossi meets up with Georgescu outside of the Snagov Monastery. Upon being introduced to the abbot of the monastery, Paul cannot kiss his ring as Georgescu does. "I caught my name in the introductions and bowed to the monk as gracefully as I could, though I couldn't bring myself to kiss his ring." Why is that?


I agree with Cat; I would think that it would be very uncomfortable to participate in a religious ritual that a person was unsure of. With all the unknowns in this story and Paul's very realistic wariness of trusting anyone new, I can fully understand his cautiousness about kissing the ring.



What areas of the book intrigued you so much that you don't want to miss out on discussing with the group?

Helen and her mother...their dragon tatoos and whatever that will happen to mean...I'm trying very hard not to read the end :)


I feel like this story is meant to be a slow read. The way it's written...the mystery...again, I think we're supposed to feel some of the frustration that Paul feels as he tries to figure this mystery out. The more he thinks he knows, the more he doesn't know, or the more questions that come up.

Annie @ButteryBooks said...

1. Paul was busily recording Helen's mother's story from memory later that night, so my first impression of the village being id'd as P- was that Paul would go back later and fill that in. Maybe needing to verify the name or spelling with Helen. But Helen's mother also mentions that she still has brothers and sisters living in that village, so maybe Paul purposely left it blank to protect Helen's family.

2. When Rossi arrives in Transyvania he describes the land as mythical, a "fairyland" ... "mountains of savage beauty, ancient castles, werewolves and witches - a land of magical obscurity." By the time Rossi arrives on Snagov and meets Georgescu he is completely drawn in to the whole Transylvania mystique and is startled and shaken up when first seeing the old abbot, describing him as an "apparition" a "ghost". Rossi could barely keep it together enough to bow to the abbot much less kiss his ring.

4. I love Rossi's letters that Helen's mother kept and Helen's mother's story of their time together. I find intriguing Rossi's denial of Helen's mother.

I did a book club party post on The Historian. Check is out at
http://butterybooks.com/bookclubpartyideas/the-historian-by-elizabeth-kostova/

This is my second time reading the book, and I am so glad I am. There are so many little things I missed the first go-round.

Trish said...

1. I hate it when authors leave out names like this "P--". It's fiction for heaven's sake! Make up a name! Use a real one! I'm expecting there to be literary license, so just get on with the story already. It's not like I'm not about to jump up and check facts and references. Grrr - sorry, blank spots like that are just a pet peeve of mine.

*Ahem* moving on

2. I think the only reason he didn't kiss the ring was just that it was an unfamiliar tradition. It would probably be better not to do it at all than to fumble through an attempt it in this case.

3. I loved meeting Helen's mother and hearing the story of her and Rossi. The fact that he 'forgot' about her is very intriguing . . . I wonder what that was all about?

Great story though. Yes, the middle is a little slow but I'm loving all the traveling and Eastern European culture and history. Very cool! I wonder how it will all wrap up?

. . . reading on . . .

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...