my literary crushes

First of all, you’ll all be glad to know that I’ve completed the first draft of the body of my dissertation.  Still to go: revisions, introduction and conclusion, and defense.

I thought I’d write a quick post to address something I’ve been saying a good bit lately.  I’ve been telling people that I “have a crush” on several different fictional characters.  What makes this notable is that I’m not talking about characters in movies, who have the benefit of being played by a cute actor.  I’m talking about characters from books.  Some of them have been portrayed in movies, but not in a way that impressed me in the particular way that I’m talking about.  I’m just going to address three here–two classics and a newcomer–but I’m sure I could come up with more if I thought about it.

1. Hamlet.  I hate it when people reduce Hamlet to the adjectives dark, brooding, and indecisive.  (I don’t think that last one is fair, anyway.  He’s trying to make up his mind about things like whether to believe a ghost and whether to kill his uncle.  These are not decisions to be made quickly.)  He’s also very funny in a reckless sort of way, a devoted son with conflicted but deep feelings about his dead father and his living mother, and a pretty deft swordsman.  He’s got a razor-sharp intellect, but that’s not his defining characteristic.

By the way, the main reason I’m thinking about Hamlet right now is that a friend and I tried to figure out his Myers-Briggs type today.  We settled on INFP.  I would date that.

2. The Deathless Man from Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht.  My book club recently read this 2011 magical realist novel.  The deathless man is this guy who shows up from time to time and basically fulfills the function of Brad Pitt’s character in Meet Joe Black, without the social awkwardness.  I fell in love with him early in the novel, when he was described as having large eyes, a feature I find very attractive.  (For a visual, look up a picture of JJ Feild RIGHT NOW.)  He continued to win me with his polite, calm, and occasionally gently sardonic manner, and then he totally stole my heart near the end when he ordered this fantastically sumptuous meal at a hotel in order to make a dying waiter happy, but clearly enjoyed it for what it was, not just for the good deed angle.  I like a man who likes to eat good food.

3. Sydney Carton from A Tale of Two Cities.  I guess it’s a cliché to fall in love with the guy who says, “It is a far, far better thing that I do than I have ever done.”  If so, I’m happy to be a cliché.  This is our current book club selection, and I’m about 100 pages in and remembering how much I love this man who sacrifices himself (in so many ways throughout the novel, not just at the end) without being an insufferable martyr, who is bitter without being cruel, and who loves long and hopelessly without being a sentimental sap.*  I’ve long noticed a similarity in stories between Sydney Carton and Severus Snape, but Carton is a more pleasant character because he doesn’t take himself so seriously.  (Note that this is a theme for me.)

While we’re on this topic: There hasn’t been a good Tale of Two Cities movie in a long time, so I’m taking suggestions for two actors who look similar enough to play Sydney Carton and Charles Darnay.  You can’t have the same actor play them, because then you’d have this weird fantasy doppelganger thing, which would take the focus off what’s really going on.  Please leave me your suggestions, along with your own literary crushes, in the comments.

*Which he could have easily become if Dickens hadn’t restrained himself.  I love Charles Dickens very much, but I’m willing to admit that he sometimes warms my heart so much I want to throw up.

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