Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Istvan …



As you know I’ve been reading the Patrick Leigh Fermor books – and keep posting snippets as he reminds me of things … relative to today, or in the centuries gone – albeit he wrote his books about eighty years ago … travelling in the 1930s from Amsterdam to Istanbul.  Exquisite language!  Excellent knowledge!

The Broken Road from the
Iron Gates to Mount Athos
Fermor's last book in the tilogy


I’m about to embark on reading the last of his trilogy “The Broken Road … From the Iron Gate to Mount Athos”



… the Iron Gate (or the Gate of Trajan) is a gorge on the Danube River between Serbia and Romania; … Fermor has a sad story after the building of two hydro-electric power stations requiring the removal of an indigenous and special peoples, who had lived on an island for centuries that is now submerged.




It's tea time and as you can see I have a
steady hand for giving you an idea where
the Iron Gate is to be found!



… while Mount Athos is a mountain and peninsula in north-eastern Greece: it is governed as an autonomous polity within the Greek Republic - its status is unique, but it is technically part of the EU …






However between my devouring of the first and the second books in the trilogy, I read “Before the Glory Ended” by Ursula Zilinksy … an author I’d never heard of … but her book had returned with me from South Africa, all those 25 years ago.

Greek peninsula of Mount Athos is
shown by the splodge in red!


I was hooked – it’s fascinating and romantic, and covers the 1930s – 1956 (the early years of which Fermor travelled) … (Anschluss 1938 [annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany] to the Hungarian revolt against the Russians in 1956).





Before the Glory Ended by
Ursula Zilinsky


Sadly it’s not cheap … otherwise I’d recommend it – still worth it though … I could write up the cover frontispiece and back cover – which make informative reads … so let me know ... 


“… with the lightest of touches she (Zilinsky) moves her settings from Paris, to Vienna, to Budapest, London and back to Europe …”   perhaps you can see what I’m trying to convey from this sentence …



Stephen 1 of Hungary

So back to the title of the post “Istvan” .. why Istvan? – because the name crops up with both authors … and I’d never heard of it before – yes we’re dealing with Austria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Bulgaria … but could these people be the same – a noble house full of romantic heroes – counts, dukes, gallant knights … ?


That got me to looking up “Istvan” … I reached this website … “Behind the Name” … and what did I find … but the Hungarian form of “Stephen”!



Well that surprised me … seeing as I’d just written about “Good King Wenceslas last looked on the Feast of Stephen” … talk about co-incidences.  So all these romantic hero guys were ‘Stephens’!!


Istvan Meszaros - Professor Ermitus University of Sussex
(Hungarian Philosopher)


But the site is interesting … I found a list of ShakespeareCharacters


Istvan Ferenczy - Hungarian Sculptor
- who walked to Rome to further
his knowledge and art


You never know what you’re going to find as the day starts … but I couldn’t resist telling you about this website – perhaps you’ve come across it …


So my hero ‘Istvan’ … is the romantic “English Stephen” … this was one of those times I’d made a fool of myself …  such is life … but I’d learnt something in the process …




Here’s to each and every Stephen, Steven, Eztebe, Stephanos, Estienne, Stjepan, Estevan, Stefan … et al …




PS let me know re the Zilinksy idea ... I'd quite like to do it - it'll be after the A-Z ... probably summer time ...


Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

41 comments:

Murees Dupé said...

I love reading books written way back, that are still relevant today. It makes me feel like people were far smarter back then. Or that life truly is universal. Don't worry, I also learned today that Istvan stands for Stephan. Thank you for that. Again, a lovely post.

A Heron's View said...

I remember the Hungarian uprising and how the West accepted the escapees. Which is why I was bitterly disappointed by the present Hungarian PM's attitude to in not wanting to receive any of the Islamic refugees.

Patsy said...

I'd never heard of the name Istvan either, Hilary.

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

When I read historical novels, I am filled with curiosity and want to look up everything I can about the author and their characters. One thing leads to another ...

Betsy Wuebker said...

Hi Hilary - how wonderful you have discovered Patrick Leigh Fermor. It was his "A Time of Gifts" which inspired me in 2014 to introduce my husband and myself to Central Europe in depth, and to return to the Balkans for a couple of months again in 2015. We hope to revisit if not later this year, then certainly next. As you know, Fermor settled in the Mani (Greece) in his later years, and the third book in the trilogy remains unfinished. And yes, Istvan is revered on the same level in the region as St George is elsewhere. The way Fermor captures the soul of a gracious world soon to be lost in the enormous upheaval of war makes him one of the greatest philosopher travelers of all time. Enjoyed the way you intersected the threads in this post.

Mike@Bit About Britain said...

Fascinating (as usual), Hilary. A feast of Stephens. Not books I'm familiar with, but the intriguing thing about reading older books is that you don't just get the author's intended story but, often, a slice of his/her own times as well.

Theresa Milstein said...

I must confess, these are parts of history I don't know well.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Murees - there's always something to learn isn't there ... and that's excellent you enjoy reading this sort of book - perhaps you'll give them a go. I think some people were very educated, while others didn't have a chance at all - they might very well have been good with their hands or on the land and learnt that way. Yes - Istvan for Stephen and Stephan ... glad you enjoyed the post ...

@ Mel - I don't remember that episode, but do know that we looked after various escapees from that time. I quite agree with you re the present Hungarian's prime minister putting barbed wire barriers up - it's appalling. Sadly we still see and read these sorts of attitudes ... we should accept refugees ....

@ Patsy - well I'm glad you hadn't realised who 'he' was .. now we both know!

@ Arleen - I certainly kept referring back to the map that is in each book, but probably should have had my ipad open at the same time ... so much to look up. And certainly with these books I've been constantly checking up on things ... fascinating to find out more ... and I'm glad you enjoy that sort of history too ...

@ Betsy - yes ... I think via another blogger - not sure who .. but I'm hooked on him!! I hadn't realised that Fermor was the inspiration for you and Pete to 'sail' off into the east european sunset ... it's a wonderful world of history over here ...

'They' have finished his third book for publication and there's quite an introduction as to the how and the whys they accomplished it ... it is near enough Fermor's work ...

He's written quite a few books ... some 'edited' by others ... but I think they've been scrupulous in their adaptions, making the book feel like his work and not theirs ... I'd like to read all them, the Cretan one in particular ...

Oh ok - thank you ... you've told me something else re St Stephen - he certainly came over as very revered (which I may not have put strongly enough in my Christmas post) .. but now I know.

Fermor certainly captures so much for us ... and we can really feel we are with him so often ... another post is coming about Attar of Roses from Bulgaria ... his descriptions are wonderful ...

I'm delighted you enjoyed the way I crafted the post together .. many thanks - and I hope you get a chance to check the other posts out ... interspersed from July last year!

More travels - that's wonderful - I'd love to do that ... just need a Pete in my life!!

@ Mike - you write such erudite posts ... mine are just very eclectic while I teach myself something as I post about a subject I don't know a lot about. Fermor is an exquisite story teller - of his days, and those of days gone by too ... amazing wordsmith ... I do feel as though I'm there as I travel with him ...

@ Theresa - nor do I .. and that's partly why I write the snippets I do, so my knowledge and understanding slowly increases. Belonging to the history class of the University of the Third Age helps too ... as I give talks there - which I know nothing about either! Live and learn ...

Thanks so much to you all for your visits and comments - cheers Hilary

Out on the prairie said...

I feel a draw to read some more. Like the name very well.

Paula Kaye said...

Sounds like a really neat set of books!!

Joanne said...

Your reading and research entwines many puzzles and pictures of history. I read your post and wonder, "where is she taking me?" Always interesting. Here's to Steve! Always a stalwart name.

Liz A. said...

So many other things to learn. Fascinating.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Stephen? How about that.
I take it the book is rare and that's why it's expensive?

Anabel Marsh said...

Interesting! I looked at the list on the website and while most forms of Stephen are recognisably related, some are unexpected. For example Etienne is a French form of Stephen, I'd never have guessed.

Inger said...

Great stuff, so iteresting. I love how it is stimulating you intellectually and creatively and then you, by sharing it, doing the same for your readers. You can get so many different things out of blogging. Since my first husband was Hungarian, I am familiar with the name Istvan. I actually have a series of paintings by an Hungarian painter by that first name Istvan Szigethy or, as they write it in Hungary: Szigethy, Istvan. Should have an accent over the a, but I have never figured out how to do that.

A Cuban In London said...

Your posts are a book in themselves. A book of a book! :-) Thanks.

Greetings from London.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Steve - I hope you can feel your way to purchasing the first of Fermor's books - it makes a really good read. Istvan ... is a good name isn't it!!

@ Paula - they are brilliant books ... so much to 'see' and to 'learn' through them ... read the first one first ...

@ Joanne - yes I do rather mix the content of my posts around don't I - but it keeps me interested and thankfully you and other readers. Exactly here's to Steve and all Steves ...

@ Liz - there's always something going on ... and books can really explode into our educative minds ...

@ Alex - I know ... I was somewhat surprised at finding out the Istvan v Stephen link.

The Zilinksy book I guess is rare - few available, probable rather than 'rare' in the book sense ... but I didn't delve further ... rather I couldn't find much more out.

@ Anabel - the website link to 'name of Stephen' ... fascinated me - and I did leave some out .. .such as you mention 'Etienne' ... I too hadn't realised ...

@ Inger - I hadn't realised your first husband was Hungarian ... I'm sure you learnt many new things and were able to tie in your Swedish heritage with his Hungarian upbringing: interesting! I looked up Szigethy -fascinating artist and graphic artist ... amazing art - loved having a brief look to find out about him.

I just enjoy learning these things and then 'dreaming' up something to interest you all as I trawl my mind for creative links! Thank you.

@ ACIL - thank you .. I try not to make them too long or complicated - but as long as people are interested that's the main thing ...

Cheers to you all and thank you so much for adding to the post - cheers Hilary

Bill said...

So many books...so little time.

I've added these to my ever-growing list (and A Time of Gifts, thanks to the comment above). By the way, I found an affordable copy of the Zilinsky book on Amazon.

Keith's Ramblings said...

So many book, so little time! I have to say I was not aware of these, but having read this my 'must read' list has grown! Thank you Hilary!

Munir said...

All of the books sound very interesting. I feel bad because my diminishing capacity to retain chapter after chapter in my mind makes it almost impossible to read big books. My doctor told me that if small books make me feel good about following them I should stay with small volumes. Then gradually I can change the size of the volumes.

You go to such an extent about writing your posts and share what you have read, that one cannot help but want to read the books that you have read. I am hoping that those who are lucky get to read them.
Take care of yourself. Cheers !

Nasreen said...

Sounds unique to me name!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Bill - I know .. exactly - so many books so little time. I'm glad you've added A Time of Gifts to your list ... it's wonderfully descriptive.

I did ask via your blog if you could let us know how much the Zilinksy book might cost ... when I looked here in the UK it was pounds 12 - which for a 2nd hand book seemed expensive ... perhaps one via the USA might be 'cheaper' in the scheme of things ...

@ Keith - I'm glad you've put these onto your TBR list .. well worth a read - an informative one at that.

@ Munir - I'd take your doctor's word ... perhaps read some short stories by some of the older writers - if you wish to read from that era. Just enjoy what you can read and absorb ... and don't worry too much ...

Thank you for your note that you'd like to be able to read these books - and I too hope others will read them .. I think they will!

@ Nas - the name Istvan ... certainly was a romantic type of 'unique' to me!

Thanks so much - good to see you and also for your comments - cheers Hilary

Lynn said...

I love when one thing leads to another like that. Fascinating. It's funny, but my friend Steven has started spelling his name Stephen, because he likes that better. He dislikes being called Steve.

Thank you for the link - I looked up my name, which means Lake and its origin is Welsh (where my mother's family originated from.)

Elsie Amata said...

I love learning stuff like this. When I was prepping for my fictional book I was looking up Italian names and all sorts of cool nick names popped up.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

It sounds like some heavy reading, but it also sounds like the author makes history come alive, and manages to readers (and by extension, us!) a lot in the process.

troutbirder said...

Curiosity is definitely not about being a fool though it may have killed a few cats. The most interesting people I know are always curious and learning new things. They're usually big readers as well. My kind of people...:)

Mark Noce said...

So cool! Makes me want to time travel:)

diedre Knight said...

Gosh the "removal of indigenous and special peoples" is such a terrible thing. I'll never understand a need for it. I'd love to read your offerings of "Before the Glory Ended"!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Lynn - I can so often find extra threads ... sometimes I wish I didn't! Interesting about your Steven to Stephen ... and yes some people hate being called a shortened form don't they. Dave, Steve, Maggie etc ...

How interesting that your name linked back to your Welsh origins ... I didn't know the name Lynn referred to a lake ...

@ Elsie - it is fun isn't it ... I'm sure I'll be back to refer to the website quite often. That's the trouble with finding a name for something ... we can search and search leaving ourselves lots of trails and lots of possible names.

@ Susan - actually I didn't find the reading heavy - there's a lot of educative stuff in the books - but his writing flows easily along ... it's like following a river ... he certainly brought that area of geography alive in so many ways ... I hope you get a chance to check out his first book ...

@ Troutbirder - I guess that's true if one is interested there's lots to take in and absorb - I'm not the biggest reader ... feel I should do more - which I guess I've started to do. I do enjoy friends and bloggers who are interesting and I can relate to - agree there ...

@ Mark - certainly lots to travel along to here ...

@ Diedre - yes the removal of those peoples from their island in the Danube to create the reservoir wasn't a happy episode in history ... flooded out by now.

Thank you re the Zilinksy book (Before the Glory Ended) note - I'll put it together in the summer ...

Cheers to you all - have happy weekends - Hilary

DMS said...

I had no idea it stood for Stephen. So interesting to learn new things here all the time. :) I never know what goodies you will share with us, but I do know that the lesson will be fun and I always learn something new. :) Thanks for sharing!
~Jess

Suzanne Furness said...

It is fascinating how one trail of investigation can lead to such discoveries. I hadn't heard of the name Istvan either.

A Cuban In London said...

Thank you very much for your poem recommendation. I really liked it. :-)

Greetings from London.

Lenny Lee said...

hi grandblogmom! wow! more interesting info. writers who travel make for good and interesting stories and history. you sent me the istvan site a while back and it's really interesting. you'll be happy to know in your honor im using the name istvan in a middle grade story im writing about england in the 11th and 12 century. istvan is king john scribe. king john is on his death bed and istvan is writing a journal entry for him about his treasure. my story is about the lost treasure.
...love and hugs

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Jess - nor did I ... I'm just pleased everyone seems interested - that's the important thing. Thanks re the 'surprise' of each post ... I prefer it that way and it keeps the blog interesting - both for me and for anyone who comes over to read, on the assumption they're pleased to read what I write!!

@ Suzanne - isn't it ... I couldn't do this blog without having Wiki available to send me to look at other things ... my books add things to my knowledge - but I'd really need a library - with large tables to lay things out and I don't have that ... just happy you enjoyed finding out about "Istvan" the name ...

@ ACIL - thanks for letting me know you enjoyed Christina Rossetti's poem/ song "When I am dead, my dearest," ... which gives a description of some aspects of the English countryside ...

@ Lenny - yes this travel writer or journal writer of his journey from Amsterdam to Istanbul does give us incredible history and fascinating insights along his journey.

How wonderful you've decided to use "Istvan" as King John's scribe ... with the story being about his treasure ... it sounds a creative idea -and I'm delighted to read you're writing up this story - learning history, weaving foreign travellers into your storyline. If Istvan had come over from Hungary - he would be well trained as a scribe ... and knowedgeable ... what fun about the lost treasure. I'm honoured to think I've inspired you somewhat ...

Thanks so much - great to hear from you all ... cheers Hilary

Christine Rains said...

All the wonderful things I learn from you. Thanks for sharing and have a lovely week!

Jacqui Murray said...

These sound wonderful. I'm going to see if they're on Gutenberg or at my library. They remind me a bit of Margaret Meade's memoir-type anthropologic books written in the early 1900's. Thanks for sharing these.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

The books you're speaking of and so many of your posts remind me how much traveling Europeans do from country to country compared to most Americans. Also how people in the past did also and international traveling must have had so many fewer rules.

Karen Lange said...

I agree - you never know what you'll discover in a day! The Zilinksy idea sounds interesting. I'd say go for it if you're so inclined. Appreciate you sharing your finds, wonderful gems, all. Enjoy the week! :)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Christine - that's good to hear and I'm so glad you enjoy coming over to see what I'm sharing ...

@ Jacqui - I don't think they'll be on Project Gunteberg ... but the library will definitely have the Fermor books ... Zilinsky's book - I'm not sure about. Margaret Mead was 'a student' ... Fermor in these books was travelling and recording ... he was a scholar - a natural studier of many subjects. But I'm sure Mead's works are fascinating and opened the door to specific studies ...

@ Susan - yes we are the 'inventors' of 'The Grand Tour' ... which continues to this day, but more in a touristy way! We have travelled more, our history written and exhibited invited us to do so ... 'safe conduct' documents were originally issued, before the passport became the standardised document issued solely to British nationals in 1855. Certainly there would have been fewer hassles travelling back then ...

@ Karen - you're so right ... I never do know what I'll discover as I draft and write. Thanks re the Zilinsky idea ... I'll do that later on - in the early summer I hope!

Thanks so much and it's heart warming that you all seem to enjoy the posts and tidbits that get mentioned ... cheers Hilary

cleemckenzie said...

Another fabulous trip through fascinating history. Who knew there could be so many variations of a name we are all so familiar with.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Lee - thank you ... I just enjoyed posting about the 'Istvans' ... glad you enjoyed too ... cheers Hilary