Here’s another banner-waving bookish post which I hope you’ll find at least entertaining, even if not especially enlightening. But don’t decide on which option (or indeed either) till you’ve struggled your way through to the end!
You may remember the Bookish Deadly Sins tag I’d borrowed for a post. You may have wondered if there was a corresponding piece on the sins’ counterparts at the other end of the moral spectrum.
Well, wonder no more: this Bookish Heavenly Virtues tag is one I’ve borrowed from Ola and Piotrek, from their effervescent Re-enchantment of the World blog (Ponowne Zaczarowanie Świata in Polish), itself inspired by the Deadly Sins exercise.
They’ve based it on the traditional Seven Virtues of Roman Catholic doctrine; this is a concept I ought to be familiar with from the catechism my religious upbringing tried to drill into me but to little avail — abstractions are notions I’ve always struggled with.
So to refresh my mind I had an online check on what the seven virtues were. The “seven Christian or heavenly virtues combine the four classical cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, temperance and courage (or fortitude) with the three theological virtues of faith, hope and charity,” I discovered.
I definitely remember the last three. Who can fail to recall them? They’re certainly popular female names. But the first four? One is another girl’s name (Prudence) while the remaining three (Justice, Temperance and Fortitude or Strength) I recognise as Major Arcana cards in the medieval Tarot pack. However, confusion comes when alternative terms are featured — Chastity instead of Fortitude or Strength, for example.
Anyway, here are the virtues (with their corresponding vices) which will be featured here:
Chastity, not Lust
Temperance, not Gluttony
Charity, not Greed
Diligence, not Sloth
Patience, not Wrath
Kindness, not Envy
Humility, not Pride
This turned out to be not as easy an exercise as I first thought.
Which author, book or series do you wish you’d never read?
First off, if there was a book or author I regretted reading I wouldn’t want to go on and read a series. Secondly, I try to find something of worth in even the direst of titles. But I did find it hard to find much in Mohamed AR’s debut novel The Longed Tales: The Chained King and the Castle of Mystery as my Goodreads review shows. As the phrase goes, there’s a few hours of my life I’ll never get back — thank goodness the author didn’t continue with his projected series! If I hadn’t received it for review I would have given up just a few pages in.
Which book or series did you find so good that you didn’t want to read it all at once, and you read it in doses just to make the pleasure last longer?
Here’s the thing: I’m not into bingeing in general, and certainly not when it comes to books. I like to savour a good piece of fiction, and to leave a decent amount of time between one chapter or instalment and the next. So it was with the individual books in the Robertson Davies Deptford Trilogy, and I shall treat his Salterton Trilogy in exactly the same way.
Which book, series or author do you tirelessly push to others, telling them about it or even giving away spare copies bought for that reason?
Well, you all know the answer to this, don’t you: Joan Aiken‘s books in general and her Wolves Chronicles in particular: I’ve been rabbiting on about them for absolute yonks. In a couple of months time I shall even be exploring some of the villains in the Chronicles for Witch Week 2019…
Which series or author do you follow no matter what happens and how long you have to wait?
I’m not a huge fanboy of any living author and so don’t find myself waiting for their next title or sequel with bated breath. Having said which, I was by the third Harry Potter book as keen as the next Potterhead to read what had happened to the Chosen One, the Boy Who Lived. And now, having very much enjoyed the His Dark Materials series and its associated titles I’m looking forward to The Secret Commonwealth, the second volume in The Book of Dust sequence.
And then of course there is a forthcoming BBC TV serial of the first book of the His Dark Materials sequence due for broadcast very soon. I’m nothing if not predictable in respect of my enjoyment of engaging, even if popular, fantasy writing!
Is there an author, book or series you’ve read that improved with time the most, starting out unpromising but ultimately proving rewarding?
This is the story of my reading life. Almost all those books I either skim-read or never finished as a teenager, classics mostly, have when I’ve revisited them proved rewarding in one way or another. That’s the trouble with maturing, isn’t it, and learning patience, gaining life experiences and so on: it shows up any wilful ignorance or arrogance one adopted in those years as a way of coping with everyday confusion. They’ve all improved with time!
For example, I can barely remember anything except one of two features of Kipling’s Kim and Twain’s Tom Sawyer (both read in my teens), certainly not enough for me to consider rereading them until recently. However, now I’m certain that all those intervening passages that sailed clear over my head then would in a future reread reveal any previously missed significance and relevance!
Which fictitious character would you consider your role model in the hassle of everyday life?
This I found was the most hardest question of all, enough that it merits a double superlative in my answer. In general my vote goes to any character who displays charity and compassion to their fellow creatures, who summons up a modicum of courage when it comes to difficult decisions, and who makes a positive difference to whatever situation they find themselves in.
Do you see my dilemma? Every fairytale character who gives their last piece of bread to somebody more deserving (whether or not they’re rewarded with magic wishes), who makes a sacrifice of some sort to redeem a potential catastrophe, or who by their actions counteracts some evil deed, is a role model. Every unregarded protagonist in fiction, every youngster in a bildungsroman, every individual facing and ameliorating a crisis situation could be a personal ideal. But as for naming just one? I can’t do it.
Which book, series or author do you find most under-rated?
I’m a champion of perceived underdogs, so you won’t find me lauding literary lions that are the current favourites of either prominent fans or media literati. It’s no surprise that I constantly bang the drum for authors like Diana Wynne Jones and Joan Aiken who perpetually seem to float under the surface of public recognition in terms of general acclamation, particularly as they are often seen as ‘only’ writers for children.
And that just about wraps up my bookish virtues. I wonder, if you also choose to take up this meme, whether you will find it as difficult as I did?