I keep meaning to post, but not about this. However, on a work night after the evening shift, pitting my memory against a meme is apparently more appealing than actual creative effort.

Seen all over: Fifteen fictional characters (television, films, plays, books, comics) who've influenced you and that will always stick with you. List the first fifteen you can recall in no more than fifteen minutes. Don't take too long to think about it.

1. Severus Snape (I figured I'd get him out of the way, because OMG predictable)
2. Alice (especially with the Cheshire Cat, the Duchess, and the Queens)
3. Anne Elliot
4. Frodo & Sam
5. Garance from Children of Paradise
6. Thea Kronborg
7. Spock
8. Sherlock Holmes
9. Lucy Snow
10. Shakespeare's Richard III
11. Philippa and Marthe from the Lymond Chronicles
12. Keaton's character in Steamboat Bill, Jr.
13. George Seurat from Sunday in the Park with George (for some reason I find this embarrassing to admit)
14. Smoky Barnable & Daily Alice Drinkwater from Little, Big
15. Kate Croy from Wings of the Dove

Honorable mention goes to:

Eowyn (book only – didn't feel the same about her in the films)
Harriet Vane & Lord Peter Wimsey
Nicholas & Smike (from the RSC's production of Nicholas Nickleby)
Jenny the cat (from The Abandoned)
Sybilla (from The Last Samurai)

A few observations: at first I thought I couldn't do this. Instead of fictional characters, I kept mentally reaching for real people. It was unsettling, because I always talk about being a character-driven reader and writer, blah blah and so on, yet it took a genuine internal effort to focus on the invented characters. And I had to keep myself honest. I wanted to claim Dorothea from Middlemarch, but something has always held me back from fully identifying with her, so I felt it would be cheating.

Also, there are cases where it's not one character but the emotional bond between two that matters. The effect dissipates if I isolate them from each other, which is why I chose pairings in some instances (the exception being Philippa and Marthe, who don't interact all that much even if their destinies revolve around Francis Crawford. I should add Christian Stewart to the Lymond list, come to think of it.)

Lastly, I struck "influence" because I'm not sure many of them did - influence me, I mean. Some I love, some fascinate me, all are memorable, but when I think of influences I turn instead to their creators, and to people whose works aren't represented here.

Hmm, yeah, that's enough nattering and pontificating for a 15-minute meme.

From: [identity profile] perverse-idyll.livejournal.com

Ahem. I decided to leave that whole question by the wayside, because the post would otherwise have grown epic and irrelevant. I would only have succeeded in tying myself in knots or backing myself into corners. Certainly all the 'real' people I have in mind are fictional constructs cobbled together entirely of words, because I never knew any of them and everything I feel towards them is a product of their novels, their plays, their letters and diaries and reviews, hearsay about them, biographies of them, and so forth.

But as per usual with memes, it's best not to reason why. (And that's a very artful icon. I keep admiring it.)

As to the realness of fictional characters: some are more real than others.

From: [identity profile] semyaza.livejournal.com

I hope I didn't sound cheeky.

Some real people are more fictional than others. I'm drawn to those ones -- or at least to their semi-fictional alternate personae. Mind you, T.E. Lawrence has turned out to be more like his fictional self than his 'real' self. That was a satisfactory development. But I was thinking of the fictional Alexander the Greats, many of them perpetrated by historians. I could qualify his inclusion with 'Renault's Alexander' or 'Richard Burton's Alexander.' :D Or Lord Alfred Douglas who, as the subject of De Profundis or his own autobiography, may or may not be fictional. Not that I like him -- quite the contrary -- but he sprang to mind in this context because I suffered a close friend who was smitten.

From: [identity profile] perverse-idyll.livejournal.com

Not at all. The fact is, I appreciate cheekiness. ;)

Wilde was one of the 'real' people who crowded into my head when I pondered 'influential characters,' because I had a mad pash for him in high school. I detested Bosie (and still do). I'm sorry you had to endure your friend's deludedness; it would have tested my patience, as I was of an age to leap to the defense of dead heroes. It was one of my earliest introductions to the concept that people, even brilliant people, will make fools of themselves for beauty.

On the fictional front, Wilde certainly created himself more self-consciously than most; he was his own work of art.

Speaking of Richard Burtons - the first one is another fascinating example of blurring the lines between reality and legend. And then there's Lawrence, yes. Which leads me to wonder, by way of mental ping-pong that may or may not have anything to do with the sleeping pill currently dissolving in my throat (why do they always get stuck halfway down?): have you ever read Sinai Tapestry by Edward Whittemore? There's much Burtoning going on in the first half. The book is uniquely wonderful in a deadpan, magical-realist way.

Bother, I see it's out of print again.

From: [identity profile] semyaza.livejournal.com

Damn. How is it that you keep coming up with books I ought to have read? In my defence, I was living abroad when Sinai Tapestry was published.

Everyone has a mad pash for Wilde in high school. I'm sorry to say that I can't bear him now but whether that's because of over-exposure or because he's tiresome is impossible to know. I tried very hard to agree with my friend about Bosie while wondering if the fact that she identified with him was a warning sign I ought to be paying closer attention to. Ah well. Now that we're no longer friends I can despise him with a clear conscience.

From: [identity profile] perverse-idyll.livejournal.com

As I'm amazed at the number of books you have read, and the number you constantly unearth from the most unlikely places, I think you needn't mourn having missed this one.

Whittemore never did become well known, and his novels are definitely an acquired taste. Sinai Tapestry and Jerusalem Poker are far and away the best of the lot.

High school is the right time for Wildean swooning. Almost everyone I knew was posing and self-fashioning in a frantic attempt to be either popular or unique. Wilde's artsy rebellion and sexual bravado/selfishness were very adolescent, but not noticeably moreso than other Victorian attitudes. He did have a remarkable mind, I'll give him that. And although he can sound insufferable from a distance, he apparently wasn't.

From: [identity profile] semyaza.livejournal.com

I remember having a discussion with someone about why I didn't like Oscar and she said 'but he was very kind.' True, but it was hard to bear that in mind while slogging through De Profundis. I used to be a completist and it bugged me that I couldn't finish the damned thing.

I wouldn't be surprised if Sinai Tapestry were on a list in one of my notebooks. The name's been niggling at me since you mentioned it.

From: [identity profile] enname.livejournal.com

Huh. It is far too early to be thinking in general and I have had no tea at all. Quite possibly though a lot of the fictional characters I would recall would be from either my childhood, or I'd need to go look up their names from obscure titles. Whilst they may remain with me, my in ability to recall names never leaves either. :P For the titles or the characters. Hmm, do 'mythological gods' count? In no order, and subject to change with tea:

Le Petit Prince - Le Petit Prince
Anne of Green Gables (What? It was rather inevitable.)
Henry IV - Shakespeare's Henry IV versus the actual one.
Brother Cadfael
Sebastian - Brideshead Revisited
S. Holmes

... and a whole bunch more, but as my brain just died.

From: [identity profile] perverse-idyll.livejournal.com

Heavens, there is no possible way I could have attempted this meme in the morning. I needed to be able to think discursively and sideways and upside-down in order to ferret out the names on this list. Oddly, my brain is most focused and disciplined in the mornings, but most accessible in the evenings. At least as far as trivia goes.

NO TEA? (Excuse me for shouting.) Perish the thought. Tea before sentence structure only under vilest duress.

Oh yes, nods all 'round for your list except for Anne, because I may be the only English-speaking female who skipped her entirely and never even noticed what it was I'd missed.

I do hope you reached the tea in time to resuscitate your brain cells. Forcing an uncaffeinated mind to sit down and think clearly is expecting a bit much and may possibly even be masochistic.

From: [identity profile] albalark.livejournal.com

except for Anne, because I may be the only English-speaking female who skipped her entirely and never even noticed what it was I'd missed.

um . . . ::raises hand timidly:: . . . that would be me, too. A relative who knew me not very well, but knew I 'liked books', got both AGG and Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm for me for a Christmas gift. Never was able to finish either one. I had hoped I'd like the TV series when it came out, but interest petered out pretty quickly. (I couldn't watch the Little House series either, but for entirely different reasons.) :-)

From: [identity profile] enname.livejournal.com

Aha! Another one. Such a relief. I should have possibly clarified in my response that it was not necessarily a good or enjoyed influence.

From: [identity profile] perverse-idyll.livejournal.com

The Little House books also zipped right by me. Ditto Rebecca. As a girl with an all-too-real life, I wasn't particularly interested in imagining myself as a girl in a more-or-less real story. I understand why these books are so beloved, but I much preferred animals and magic for my subject matter.

From: [identity profile] enname.livejournal.com

Yes, well I will attempt the rest of the list at a suitable time that does not involve 8 am at any point in the sentence. *shudders* The only reason why I was online is because I had to look up an address to which I was meant to be attempting to move myself towards half an hour later. Whilst waiting for my email to wake up (it, like me, does not appreciate mornings) I was staying awake.

Mmm, I study languages in the morning for that very reason. I retain more and am able to focus on the structure of sentences, but it is useless for anything other than conceptualisation as the day wears on. Latin is oddly refreshing first thing. Please note that I only attempt this AFTER several cups of tea, not before. Also my idea of early morning is post 9-10 am.

Please don't remind me - the tea was brewing and not yet ready for consumption. *winces* It would be why I could not type my password properly at all and still failed to write down the address after looking it up.

I am pleased to hear there is at least one English speaking female not influenced by her, because I can at least I know I can avoid any accidental gushing. Alas, with my name (and non accidental comparisons - I pity my poor grandmother who had red hair as well), people kept on giving me the books whether I liked it or not. I finally caved under the pressure when I ran out of other things to read. There was no specific mention made of whether the influence had was 'good' or 'bad' in this meme. I'd say 'mixed.'

I may have over dosed on tea the rest of the day to make up for the severe drought in the early morning. Plus it is not 500+ degrees at the moment so I have to store up for the very hot days. I swear it works like that :P

From: [identity profile] perverse-idyll.livejournal.com

*solemn* Eight am is a necessary evil and one must be able to look it bravely in the face in order to function in society. But it doesn't exactly induce sparkling or inspiring thoughts (except perhaps when showers are involved. My muse has a shower fetish and loves to spring ideas on me when I'm in no position to write them down).

I'm reluctantly willing to rise at that evil hour, but it's best to avoid interacting with me until after I've breakfasted. Tea wakes the responsive human and pacifies the addict; toast fills my stomach and makes me affable. However, the image of me attempting language study at that hour, even replete, stretches the bounds of credulity.

If anyone except teachers ever dared press books upon me, I've repressed the memory. My family is completely bemused by my taste and probably wouldn't recognize the names of a single author I love. As far as everyone else is concerned buying a bookseller a book is the very definition of shoveling coals to Newcastle; besides, all I hear these days is that the Kindle shall make us free. I did have to fend off persistent idiotic questions in my youth about my tolerance for alcohol, presumably because, a la Remus Lupin, parents are prescient and we're all given names that foretell our futures. By which logic I should have become either a lush or a stripper. Or a successful recording artist.

It's an hour before midnight, so green tea it is, alas.

From: [identity profile] enname.livejournal.com

I am a coward through and through. My courage fails when there is a morning involved, although apparently my tongue is rather unbearably sharp in its place. Generally interaction is a bad idea, and apparently that covers all of today as well for a bonus extra. *glares at self*

Eh, language study at 8am is impossible. When I refer to 'in the morning' I mean 'in the part of the morning where I could conceivably be waking up' and this usually translates to 'lunch.'

My family would not dare and as far as I am aware have never really managed to buy me a book despite being not possessing bad taste themselves. I think they are too scared. It was the well well meaning 'family friends' who went with the 'well she likes books..' and look, how cute, it has her name! Nevermind that I am, and was, about as romantic as a blow to the head and so have no sympathy for the main character at all. *snorts*

*chokes on the cup of tea she is drinking* Uh yes, Dumbledore should have hired Lupin's parents rather than Trelawney. Clearly you are destined to become your name. I am surprised a bottle can type as well as you can. There are certain individuals during the French Revolution who would struggle - in the rush to name people non 'Catholic' names, there were the usual 'Liberty' etc, but also a lot of 'Dung heaps' and 'Rotten Vegetables' in all the enthusiasm.

Kindle. *twitches* I like my chains.

Nothing wrong with green tea, it has a venerable history. These Chinese did perfectly well on it!

From: [identity profile] enname.livejournal.com

On re reading, forgive my horrendous sentences. My brain is flighty and unable to string words together currently.

From: [identity profile] loupgarou1750.livejournal.com

*flails* OMG! Children of the Paradise!

ahem. you already know my love for you knows no bounds, and somehow, I love more than ever, just for listing Garance (although for myself, Baptiste is the one who most lingers. I think it's that tragic scene at the end. *clutches heart melodramatically*)

From: [identity profile] perverse-idyll.livejournal.com

*flails back at you* Oh yes indeed, Children of Paradise! Sixteen years old and totally smitten by the experience. It's a wonder I didn't wander out of the classroom (it was shown on a pull-down screen at a junior college) and fall in love with the first person I met.

Well, I was going to list Baptiste too, but I chickened out. I'd say he was the one I identified with and Garance was the one I yearned for. But I still have residual embarrassment over the fact that I studied mime for several years largely due to the spell this film cast and the historical glamor it bestowed. I even hunted down and read Jean-Louis Barrault's autobiography and Jacques Prévert's poetry.

But of course that tragic scene at the end! It wouldn't have put a life-changing knife through my teenaged soul if it hadn't ended the way it did. Most. Romantic. Film. Ever.

From: [identity profile] albalark.livejournal.com

A very interesting list - one that brings questions to mind (but then again - I'm just nosey ::g::).

What is it about Alice that stays with you in those scenes in particular?
Why Anne Elliot, as opposed to any other Austin heroine?
I loved Les Enfants de Paradis, but I guess I was too old and cynical when I saw it for the first time, and didn't fall under Garance's spell - why did you?
Lucy, but not M. Paul??
Why are you embarrassed about Georges sticking with you?
Kate from James' novel, or Helena Bonham Carter's portrayal of her?
And are we talking Jenny Linsky, of Cat Club fame, or am I missing something here? (not that it would shock me if I was ::g::)

OK, enough interrogation. :-)

From: [identity profile] perverse-idyll.livejournal.com

The problem with lists like this is that we're encouraged to plunk the answers down without explanation. It's part of a meme's secret agenda to make people curious about each other.

The contrast of polite, unflappable, literal-minded Alice with the grotesque and violent Red Queen and Duchess fascinated me. I found the White Queen appealing but terribly uncanny; the moment she turns into a sheep was (along with other Looking-Glass moments) my earliest literary experience of the surreality of existence. I know that sounds pretentious, but I can't think of any other way to describe it. As a child I suspected that people were not what they seemed, or were more than they seemed, and the White Queen's transformation - the sense that she had always been a sheep in a shawl, but Alice hadn't seen it until that moment - was proof of that, somehow.

I've always loved trickster figures, and the Cheshire Cat made a very deep impression on me: amusing and familiar, sarcastic and sinister, self-possessed and slightly creepy.

Persuasion strikes me as a very personal book. The autumnal quality of it, Anne's resignation and tired warmth and lack of illusions, suggest something of an Austen self-portrait. The way Anne flares to life at the glimpse of a second chance is poignant; the emotional coloring of the prose is darker and more mature, giving the romance a tinge of wish-fulfillment.

Garance? Well, I was sixteen, and she was the poised center of a teeming, melodramatic tale. The tumult around her was richly Dickensian, loud and vulgar, and Baptiste's passion was so intense it bordered on the ridiculous (something the film comments on). Arletty was older, small-breasted, not a raving beauty, in other words not what one would expect of a 'woman of mystery.' And yet for me she radiated dignity, seductiveness, intelligence, autonomy. She survived as a courtesan yet clearly belonged to none of the men who kept her. She does her best not to damage or destroy Baptiste; she leaves him the first time not because he can't satisfy her but because she would harm him by staying. This is true at the end as well, when he's finally matured enough to be her equal. The code of honor she's adhered to all through the film compels her to accept the prior claim of Baptiste's wife and children and go her own way, forcing him to honor the bonds he's chosen.

Fierce, obsessive, sarcastic, passionate, high-minded, sensually repressed, self-punishing Lucy? How could I not choose her? I enjoy M. Paul's company and their duels of the mind, but the novel injects Lucy like a drug directly to the bloodstream.

Ah, Georges (thank you for restoring the 's')! Why am I embarrassed? Because he chooses art over life. Because his character equates sacrifice with artistic necessity. I've always been susceptible to this way of thinking, while being perfectly well aware it's a hedge behind which many a famous arsehole has taken shelter, never mind that they abuse or neglect the people around them. Georges pits life against art, and because it's Sondheim he does it beautifully (moreso perhaps because Sondheim was defending himself against critical perceptions of his lack of heart - he sentimentalizes art as a 'truer' experience). It's a mythology I sometimes struggle against.

Kate in the novel. The film irritates me to my toes. They made Kate stupid - for no reason whatsoever she confesses the plot to a third party. Also HBC is nothing at all like how I imagined Kate Croy. She hasn't the gravitas, and there's absolutely no sense of a woman of remarkable spirit carrying out a grandly romantic, immoral scheme that demonstrates how amazing she is and in its final flowering costs her every iota of self-respect and love. Her own choices damn her and she gets nothing she wants, yet even amidst the wreckage she remains strangely glorious.

Jenny is the cat in Paul Gallico's The Abandoned. A small boy is hit by a lorry and wakes up to find he's turned into a white tom. Jenny's the tabby who teaches him how to behave as a feline instead of a human child. It's a delightful story and utterly heartbreaking.

Oh dear. Ask a question and receive a treatise!


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