Meme in G

Jan. 4th, 2017 09:38 am
marmota_b: Photo of my groundhog plushie puppet, holding a wrapped present (Default)
Picked up from [personal profile] heliopausa : you ask for a letter and then think of five fictional characters whose name begins with that letter, and write your comments and ideas on them.

When I asked her for a letter, I feared I would end up with one that Czech names don't usually begin with. Of course I was given G which is exactly one such letter. Over half of the following characters' names don't involve it in Czech.

But, surprisingly, once I got started, the rest flowed very quickly.

Gordon Urquhart (I hope I spelled it correctly...), from Local Hero – is frankly a mystery to me; but that’s actually part of what makes Local Hero fun. He’s a shrewd, smooth businessman in a community where everyone has to hold several jobs; as the story progresses, one begins to think simutaneously that he’s wasted there, that he’s exactly the man this community needs, and that he'd gleefully drive it to ground for money (but then, so would the rest of the community...). And he’s played by Dennis Lawson, so you believe it all. The interplay between him and Mac, Gordon trying to butter up Mac and drive a hard bargain and Mac swiftly not giving a damn (I’m at a loss at how to describe "not giving a damn" progressively?) – that’s an integral part of the core of the story in Local Hero, and a lot of fun to watch. So Gordon has to be smooth and therefore a bit faceless; but as I said, as played by Dennis Lawson, he is all that and still very memorable. (Which is best exemplified by the fact that he was the first fictional character with a name beginning with G I could think of that I could imagine myself writing about and wasn’t my own :D). Hm, I should watch more films with Dennis Lawson. He does seem to have an inate ability to make characters memorable.


Goldberry – from The Fellowship of the Ring. Doesn’t get much space in the books, but she does make a deep and lasting impression, feeding right into stories of water fairies, to put into English the way I think of it in Czech. Which, of course, doesn’t make much sense with the way fairies are usually perceived in English these days. That was, I believe, precisely Tolkien’s point in writing about such characters.

She’s actually not dangerous like Slavic water fairies are (at least not in this story), but she certainly radiates power, in a bit of foreshadowing for the way Galadriel is portrayed later in the book. Why did I think of Goldberry before Galadriel? Probably precisely because she’s a category of character I was already familiar with when first reading the books, so she rests somewhere more firmly in my subconscious. Even though her name doesn’t begin with G in Czech. (It’s Zlatěnka in Czech.)

The impression I have of her is hugely visual. I'm not sure if it's just because I'm so visual myself, or because that's really mostly what we get. But what I get from that about her as a character is that she has a knack for making an impression. That would go a long way towards explaining how she made an impression on Tom Bombadil, who, if anything, is characterised by being above (?) things. And her hospitality shows that she's not just that.


Gimli
– and now that I’ve thought of Tolkien, there’s actually a wide choice of G characters to pick from. I chose to go with Gimli, because of Gimli and Legolas, who demonstrate one of my favourite literary moments... motifs... something; namely, the way two characters are stronger together, not just in the universe of the book (although that’s certainly also true), but even more so, for the reader.

Gimli, on his own, is mostly the token dwarf in the Fellowship (pretty much literally). He has his moments, but were it not for his friendship with Legolas – even though we actually never learn how exactly that happened! – his gradual character development would probably be passing and somewhat unmemorable. Even his devotion to Galadriel would probably be a lot less impactful, were it the only connection to the Elves he formed; but now that he springs to her defence in front of Éomer and Legolas springs to Gimli’s defence against the Riders in the same scene, the shift in Gimli’s attitude is firm and unshakable. His friendship with Legolas seals the deal, and also makes it absolutely clear that this is one of the good guys who are going to save the world and who are worthy of saving the world. (A lesson a lot of the “saving the world” genre could take a few pages from.)

Plus, Gimli’s description of the Glittering Caves is, in my personal opinion, one of the most beautiful things Tolkien’s ever written. It’s probably insulting to Dwarves to say that one passage completely humanises Dwarves, but my human readers will know what I mean.


Magrat Garlick
from Discworld – surnames count, don’t they?

Whoo, Magrat. She’s like someone I know, except I don’t really know anyone quite like her. I love that Pratchett’s able to do that. I have my problems with him, but I love that he’s able to do that.

She’s insecure and has odd beliefs (I mean, even among the witches in the books) and half the time you roll your eyes at her ideas, and you still root for her, her success against the villains, her progress in the world and her awkward romance. I'm unable to dissect this the way I was able to dissect Gimli, but I think part of the trick is seeing into her head in her Crowning Moments of Awesome. It makes her both relatable and kind of aspirational. We don't usually get this with Granny Weatherwax in her Crowning Moments of Awesome, only in what leads up to them, which makes Granny both seem even more awesome but also more distant. Granny's the shining leader (with lots of faults), Magrat is the underdog you root for.

Also, a group (Eh... what exactly is the terminology here? “Voluntary association”, as provided by Wikipedia, sounds weird.) for free time activities in my hometown, founded largely by women (including two of my art teachers), was named after her ("Magráta"). I wasn’t familiar with Magrat yet when it happened. Now that I am, I wholeheartedly approve of that choice of name. It’s exactly the sort of pursuit she would approve of.


Glimfeather
– my take on Glimfeather can be summed up thusly:

“You can't trust mammals to know a thing about Birds, tu-whoo. But you do know that female Owls are bigger than males, don’t you?”

A huge part of the reason I insist on keeping female Glimfeather is precisely because it doesn't matter whether Glimfeather as a character is male or female (aside from my hobby-horse fact above: it would presumably be even easier for a female Owl to carry a human child). Glimfeather is default; Lewis defaulted to male and the translator defaulted to female. There's a sad shortage of default female animal characters, even in books originally written in Czech (like, more tomcats than female cats in popular Czech children's books, even though cat is default female). Jill, for example, isn't as default as that. For one thing, she plays up her femininity when it suits her; the surrounding characters do treat her differently. Glimfeather, being a Bird and an Owl in particular, can be either and we mammals would be none the wiser (which is also my headcanon for why Lewis treats her as default male).

Glimfeather's obviously following the "wise owl" trope, which apparently isn't true in Real Life. But this is Narnia, so who cares. What I like is that she's shrewd and common-sense: her wisdom is practical, active (unlike the completely satirical Owl-Wol in Winnie-the-Pooh or the Owl in the Czech Little Mole cartoons, who's learned but rather out of touch as a result).

And I like that she's one of the Beasts who are very obviously Beasts.



So... if you want, and haven't done this yet (or maybe even if you have), you can ask me for a letter, too.

Also: happy new year!
marmota_b: Photo of my groundhog plushie puppet, holding a wrapped present (Default)
So I signed up for the Narnia Fic Exchange proper this year, and have received my assignment, and now pondering commences.

Elizabeth Culmer has the problem of obviously her worldbuilding and characters threatening to give her away as the writer. I don't have that problem; I've barely published anything and most of my worldbuilding is happening in the background so far (although I did already have to drop Twinkletop from my remix). My problem is that I almost immediately got a vague idea of a direction to pursue which would have spoiled one of many future plot points for The Peridan Chronicles.

The good news is, trying to come up with a way to write around that seems to have started a flurry of ideas including a hint of a plot (always the greatest problem for me!), so, yay.

Also, some hopefully interesting female characters (as of now, still nameless) have walked in, and some potentially interesting discussions and a theme are forming, so, more yay.

Now I'm becoming worried if I'll have enough time to write the beast this idea is quickly growing into.

-------------------------------------------------------

During my annual attempt to bring some order to my mess of stuff, I found some old, old pictures I made inspired by Narnia. Maybe. Because through them, I remembered one of the sources for my version of Narnia, the cozy country of small Talking Beasts and Birds and the undertaking of practical projects: a series of lavishly illustrated books by Tony Wolf.

We used to borrow them from the library; I only have the third one, which also has the dwarfs/gnomes and introduces giants. I feel like it's the last one that might pass for Narnianish; the next one has fairies and the sort of magic wand magic that I never truly liked in a deep liking way. Even then, while definitely daydreaming about both, I instinctively liked the Deep Magic of worldbuilding more than the willful magic of power, I guess? It was the former that found its way into pictures. And I was more fascinated by the clever things the animals and the gnomes built and made than the things the fairies could conjure.
Seeing as Czech fairies are more like the Narnian Naiads and Dryads than these wee magical beings, I guess it's no wonder I related to the Narnian sort more... and in the Tony Wolf books, to the three mouse sisters. They sewed and wove, and wasn't that just fabulous, making things with their... paws?
Also, there's the weird genderised thing going on between the all-male gnomes and the all-female fairies; I never gave it much thought, but I liked the mixed up animals better than either. The Czech default genders may have had a hand in it again, because I'm finding the venerable Rat was definitely meant to be male, and who knows about the turtle or otter.

Even the first three books don't quite fit in with Narnia: the animals tend to be smaller rather than larger, the dwarfs are different... But in introducing a number of various fairly realistic-looking species beyond what Lewis bothered with, and thinking about a different sort of implications for such a world, I think the books jumpstarted my interest in the lives of the smaller inhabitants of Narnia - and, for that matter, Spare Oom as well. :-)
marmota_b: Photo of my groundhog plushie puppet, holding a wrapped present (Default)
Well, that sounds like a very pretentious title for what's going to follow.

I've written about this a few times already in various comments on other people's blogs and possibly also stories, but I've wanted to make a post out of it. There is all the talk about representation of women going on - female fanfiction writers trying to tackle it in their stories, myself included (goodness, Twinkletop happened kind of accidentally, but I've very quickly become very fond of her...), and inevitably you come to the point that there just aren't that many female background characters in Narnia. Lewis, for his time and age and life experience, does remarkably well on balance between protagonists, in my opinion, and I suspect that was because he really was doing a conscious effort - because almost every time a slightly less important character pops up, Lewis defaults to male.

The fun part of this I wanted to discuss is the fact that I've only become aware of this when I started reading the books in English. The reason why that's so is that Czech, unlike English, is a gendered language - everything has a gender, masculine, feminine or neuter, so some animals naturally default to female in Czech. And in some cases, the translator - I'm speaking of Renáta Ferstová here, because I've never read the second Czech translation - defaulted to female even where Lewis used a male pronoun in the original.

And sometimes, in Narnia, this means a female Glimfeather and a whole Parliament of female Owls, because "sova" - "owl" is default feminine. (Goodness, was I disappointed when I found out that both Glimfeather and Owl-Wol in Winnie-the-Pooh are male...)

It means that when the Jackdaw in The Magician's Nephew becomes the first joke, the Jackdaw is female.

It means that when the giant in Prince Caspian steps on a Fox in his distress and the Fox bites him, the Fox is female.

In fact, it means that you probably automatically assume some of the Mice are female, because "mouse" is a femininum.

It means that the Squirrels at the end of The Silver Chair default to female.

EDIT: The most striking example that didn't occur to me at first - in The Boy and His Boy, the cat that comforts Shasta and is actually Aslan is default female.

So, for your enjoyment and contemplation, I'm enclosing a non-exhaustive list of default-female species in Czech. Many of these, even where English only seems to have a complicated or Latin genus name (at least to be found online), would have a simple Czech name that a child moderately interested in the natural world (which many Czech children are, or at least were when I was a child...) and visiting zoos would come to recognise.
The list )
So, as you can see, you get a fairly encompassing range of "female Beast" characteristics in this default list, even if it often does tend towards the smaller (most of the larger animals are default male). But you also get the hugeness that is a whale, you get beasts & birds of prey as well as the peaceful dove and sheep, you get swans and crows, you get both the "bad" and "good" snakes, you get the chatty and the quiet, the fast and the bouncy and the flying and crawling and swimming and earth-dwelling and nest-building and tree-climbing, you get day and night. Have fun with it if you're writing Narnian fanfiction. :-)

(Interestingly and as an aside, "child" in Czech is grammatically neuter but "children" is feminine, to the confusion of many a student.)
marmota_b: Photo of my groundhog plushie puppet, holding a wrapped present (Default)
There's just been a fic posted on FanFiction.net that tells the story of why Coriakin was punished by governing the Duffles, and in the process manages to explain Stars, Tash and Zardeenah and another thing or two. It has echoes of the Music of the Ainur to its worldbuilding, and it all makes wonderful sense. I don't think I could come up with anything better now. I particularly like Zardeenah's role in it, as a sort of counterpoint to Tash.

Starfall by Gryphinwyrm7

marmota_b: Photo of my groundhog plushie puppet, holding a wrapped present (Default)
There's definitely shades of Pitcairn Islands history in Telmarine history. Not in a "that's what Lewis meant!" way, but definitely in a "that's most likely the story he would have heard" way. I like the mention of how inaccurate navigational techniques made the islands hard to find for subsequent explorers - that's very easily what could have happened to the island the Telmarines came from and returned to! And the story of the Bounty mutineers together with Tahitians founding the few families that live there, and the subsequent infighting among the settlers: that does sound familiar.

I should be doing something else, of course, but I got to thinking how much of Polynesian culture (assuming it's Polynesian, which I find most likely) might have filtered down to Telmarine culture, and that's the kind of rabbit hole that sort of thinking leads to.

The headcanon I'm working with now is that the independent-thinking Western Telmarines I've mentioned in The Peridan Chronicles are those who've retained most of their Polynesian roots (adapted to new circumstances and mostly unaware), and are most content with being where they are (which may not necessarily mean "settled down" in their case). Whereas the Central/Eastern Telmarines are those who are most like their forefathers of European descent, including the drive to conquer and subjugate.
Very simplistically told, because they're not all the same, of course. Now I'll have to find out more about Polynesian culture and what of it I could use, but I don't really have time for it now.

                                          

Also, Dreamwidth needs to introduce an "inquisitive" mood indicator. "Curious" is close but not quite.
marmota_b: Photo of my groundhog plushie puppet, holding a wrapped present (Default)
I've just found out that the hierarchy of aristocracy I'm sort of unconciously following in The Peridan Chronicles - i.e. Lords/Ladies on a higher level and Sirs/Dames (knights) on a lower level - is an old Czech medieval/early modern distinction. Later it got muddied up with the arrival of Habsburgs on the throne, especially during and after the Thirty Year War, when many foreign aristocratic families (Catholic) replaced the old Czech (Protestant) ones - bringing in all the foreign titles like Dukes and Princes and whatnot.
There are some old Czech aristocratic titles I'm aware of, possibly to do with one's function in some cases, but it was apparently a much simpler system than later, basically with only two levels in the hierarchy, excepting the ruler.
I followed it unconsciously, myself unaware that that was really a historical fact, but I like it very much for Narnian headcanon. A simple system during the Golden Age and following it, no one nominally better than others in their own rank except when fulfilling a function; and then completely muddied up with the Telmarine rule, where Caspian can go and name Lord Bern a Duke just because.
marmota_b: Photo of my groundhog plushie puppet, holding a wrapped present (Default)

Do you assign actor likenesses to characters?

For long, I had not been one to do that. Maybe this was in part because we’ve never had TV, so where others grew up with visual stories, I grew up imagining everything from the pages of a book. Then with DVDs, this changed. I still don’t do it with that systematicity of some people who have lists of characters and actors at the beginning of their stories (that sort of approach always feels somewhat false to me, although what do I know). But some likenesses have worked their way through.

Kněžna, who makes a cameo appearance here, actually goes way back to what I now believe to have been my very first piece of fanfiction, written during my teenage years at the request of “a short story, to be beautiful” by my sister for her birthday. It evolved into novel proportions and was finished years after that particular birthday. It was based on ideas and environment developed by Czech writer Jaroslav Foglar, but populated entirely by my own characters (and five characters of my sister’s creation). I still call it “my short story”, even though it’s actually not. Anyway, Kněžna has, for a long time, looked much like Libuše Šafránková, especially in her incarnation as Cinderella. This happened, in part, because a certain scene in the story was inspired by a drawing in a 1970s knitting and crocheting manual – I would flip through it, look at the pictures of young ladies in knitwear and try to imagine why they were in those strange poses they were (back then, the concepts of “fashion illustration creative licence” and “pattern illustrations are weird” were still beyond my grasp). Three Hazelnuts for Cinderella is from 1974, so apparently there’s some similarity. My mind works in mysterious ways like that.

The next character to have a likeness assigned was Edmund. My headcanon Edmund, as I mentioned in the note to the first chapter of The Peridan Chronicles, is dark-haired, because of the Czech illustrations. Then, later, I watched 4:50 from Paddington in the latest Miss Marple series and suddenly realised that Michael Landes’ character reminded me of Edmund for some reason; once I realised that, I could not go back. In this funny roundabout way, my headcanon child Edmund actually looks a lot like Skandar Keynes, although otherwise pretty much nothing else about my headcanon Narnia looks like those films. (Well, maybe except some of those parts that were filmed in the Czech Republic, because not too surprisingly, a lot of my headcanon Narnia looks like that which I’m familiar with.)

Then adult Lucy started looking much like Rosamund Pike. This happened because I played with the idea of Susan being similar to Grace Kelly (dark-haired, of course), the same sort of half gracefully aspirational, half tragic character. That one did not quite take root in the looks department, but along the way, I came across a photoshoot of Pike Grace Kelly-style, and went all “oooh, Lucy” – and that one stuck. There’s no arguing with my mind when it does that.

It’s for tracing these crazy roundabout mysteries of my creative process that I wanted a fanfiction-y journal. I’ve never gotten into the habit of writing a personal diary, but sometimes trying to keep track of this without it is rather maddening... I think it’s the concept of writing something private that anyone can at any time find and read without your permission anyway that doesn’t sit well with me – growing up with two sisters in a small house will do that to you. And all the stories of famous people’s diaries. Better to just make it public right from the start, I guess.

Profile

marmota_b: Photo of my groundhog plushie puppet, holding a wrapped present (Default)
marmota_b

June 2017

S M T W T F S
    123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
252627282930 

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Aug. 17th, 2017 01:35 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios