They’re Famous in Their Fictional Worlds

Every fictional character is famous in a way — after all, they’re in a book! But then there are fictional characters who, within the context of that book, are actually famous — as in being a celebrity, being at the top of an important profession, being a notorious criminal, etc.

So I’m not necessarily talking about characters who are famous to readers. For instance, Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre is one of the most iconic protagonists in literary history, but she’s only known to a fairly small number of people in her fictional world and is thus not famous for the purposes of this blog post’s theme.

It’s interesting to see how authors depict the fictionally famous and how they show the pros and cons of prominence. In their works, writers might answer questions like: Is the fame sudden or the product of a long period of hard work? How much luck was involved? Is the fame fleeting or enduring? Is the high-profile person enjoying the fame or is s/he “lonely at the top”? Does fame change the celebrity, in a good or bad way? For instance, is s/he feeling proud, satisfied, financially secure, etc.? Or does fame bring negative consequences such as egomania, neglect of family, the break-up of a marriage, etc.?

As usual, I think of blog ideas while reading a book. In this case it was Terry Pratchett’s Unseen Academicals — a comic novel, with plenty of heart, set in a fantasy university area populated by wizards, dwarfs, goblins, and other creatures. The seemingly ditzy kitchen worker Juliet is unexpectedly chosen to model dwarf clothes (despite not being a dwarf) and handles her overnight fame and wealth with more common sense than expected. Her kitchen boss Glenda becomes well known not only for her cooking but for having a more impressive mind than the university leaders she feeds. And the genial, overachieving orc Mr. Nutt becomes prominent for his amazing intellect and physical strength.

In J.M.G. Le Clezio’s Desert, young Lalla leaves the arid wide-open spaces of Morocco for big-city France, where she becomes a prominent photography model without seeking that profession. She finds the shallow celebrity life not to her liking, and returns to Morocco within months.

Enough about models! The ambitious, hard-working Thea Kronberg becomes a big-time opera singer in Willa Cather’s The Song of the Lark. But as is often the case with celebrities (particularly female ones), there is some sacrificing of personal and family life. Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto also features a mega-celebrity opera star (Roxanne Coss) who gets a lot closer to the general public than usual when she’s taken hostage along with her audience during a performance.

In Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen becomes well known in the dystopian country of Panem for her courage, archery skills, and more as an involuntary contestant in the trilogy’s brutal games.

A real sport — baseball — is featured in The Natural, whose protagonist Roy Hobbs becomes a major Major League star but has major difficulties before and after that happens. The movie version of Bernard Malamud’s book gives Roy a happier ending.

Speaking of films, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s unfinished novel The Last Tycoon stars movie producer Monroe Stahr, who was partly based on real-life Hollywood legend Irving Thalberg.

Another producer — a TV one — is Savannah Jackson in Terry McMillan’s Waiting to Exhale. She has a very successful career but a messy personal life.

Henrietta Stackpole is a fairly famous journalist in Henry James’ The Portrait of a Lady, and — unlike a lot of fictional celebrities — seems fairly happy with her career and life.

Another prominent journalist is Mikael Blomkvist in Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and its sequels. He too seems pretty comfortable with himself, but has to endure some dangerous situations while conducting his impressive investigative reporting.

Then there are fictional characters famous within a relatively limited sphere, but famous nonetheless. One example is the beloved teacher Mr. Chipping in James Hilton’s Goodbye, Mr. Chips.

Some villains who are “celebrities” in their fictional worlds? Sauron of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, Lord Voldemort of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books, Professor Moriarty of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories, Count Fosco of Wilkie Collins’ The Woman in White, Iago of Shakespeare’s Othello, etc.!

Those evil fellows squared off against also-famous heroes and heroines: Bilbo, Frodo, Gandalf, Aragorn, Harry, Hermione, Ron, Dumbledore, Sherlock, Walter Hartright, Marian Halcombe…

Who are your favorite characters well known in their fictional realms?

(The box for submitting comments is below already-posted comments, but your new comment will appear at the top of the comments area — unless you’re replying to someone else.)

I’m writing a literature-related book, but still selling Comic (and Column) Confessional — my often-funny memoir that recalls 25 years of covering and meeting cartoonists such as Charles Schulz (“Peanuts”) and Bill Watterson (“Calvin and Hobbes”), columnists such as Ann Landers and “Dear Abby,” and other notables such as Hillary Clinton, Coretta Scott King, Walter Cronkite, and various authors. The book also talks about the malpractice death of my first daughter, my remarriage, and life in Montclair, N.J. — where I write the award-winning weekly “Montclairvoyant” humor column for The Montclair Times. You can email me at dastor@earthlink.net to buy a discounted, inscribed copy of the book, which contains a preface by “Hints” columnist Heloise and back-cover blurbs by people such as “The Far Side” cartoonist Gary Larson.

83 thoughts on “They’re Famous in Their Fictional Worlds

  1. Good morning Dave, to continue Ana`s post on John Grisham`s books his latest one ” The Rogue lawyer” Well known as a Lawyer Sebastian Rudd is very much like Mickey Haller of Michael Connelly`s famous series.
    Rudd defends criminals who appears to be guilty those no-one else will touch; he is unpopular with criminals and with the police well known in his field. But he is not above cheating, especially when he believes the other side is doing it; he says he fights bad systems and hates injustice.
    Has no permanent residence but frequently seen in TV .

    In “Calico Joe” MLB pitcher, Warren Tracey hard-partying and hard-throwing Mets pitcher father of Paul Tracey. He is far from a role model but was well known among sport fans.

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    • Good morning, bebe!

      Thanks for the two great examples of high-profile people — lawyer and ballplayer — from the mind of John Grisham. I liked “Calico Joe,” but not as much as Grisham’s legal thrillers. Still, it’s terrific that author tries something different every once in a while — and a reader can tell he’s a big baseball fan.

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  2. One would think that the fortune of the Trotta family was forever made after one of its members happened to save the Emperor Franz Joseph of the Austro-Hungarian Empire from a gunshot wound at the battle of Solferino, and in a way, it was: Trotta became Baron Von Trotta, and a member, if an uncomfortable one, of Austrian aristocracy. For years, a gussied-up, overdrawn account of his battlefield exploit appeared in the state textbooks– until Von Trotta himself, after requesting an audience with the Emperor, requests that it be repaired to reflect the truth . The Emperor declines to correct it, as the truth would be uninspirational to young patriots, but agrees to remove it altogether.

    Such is the gaining and eventual passing of national fame in Joseph Roth’s The Radetsky March (1932), a nostalgic, subtle novel chronicling over three generations the rise and eventual fall of the Trottas, and their nation.

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  3. Howdy, Dave!

    — Who are your favorite characters well known in their fictional realms? —

    I kind of like the Amelia Earhart avatar who serves as the primary narrator of Gore Vidal’s “Kalki,” Theodora Hecht Ottinger. Teddy is so famous as both an author and an aviatrix that she appears on “The Merv Griffin Show” as early as Page 3 of the book and is well known to everybody on Earth — not figuratively but literally — by the denouement of the novel. Of course, apocalypses being apocalypses, the former point may be more impressive than the latter, at least in terms of the fickle finger of fame.

    J.J. (Alias MugRuith1)

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    • That’s a great example of a famous fictional person, J.J.! Thanks! I guess it can help when a character is modeled on an actual person, as in the case with “Kalki” and with other novels such as Robert Penn Warren’s “All the King’s Men” — whose high-profile Willie Stark protagonist is clearly modeled on Huey Long.

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  4. ” Other men ,might inherit from their fathers a head , a gold pocket watch ,or an eternally astonished expression ; from mine I acquired the need to have my name whispered in reverential tones” ….. Quite a few works occurred to me when I read your( as always) excellent essay . No idea why Fredrick Exley’s strange part fantasy , part memoir , part adolescent hero worship , cult classic popped into my head as I doubt I’ve seen it come up more than a few times in the two decades or so since I read it. A Fan’s Notes is a wrenching ,soul bearing, search for meaning in life through literature and perhaps love doomed by acute alcoholism and a very peculiar addiction to the values and obsessions of an adolescent male circa 1959. The book is anchored on the author’s very real Idealization of Frank Gifford , one of the greatest college football running back and very respectable NFL player for some 10 years with the Giants , he is also of course famous for his later career on Monday Night Football as a kind of sane foil to Dandy Don Meredith and Howard Cosell. Exley attended USC with Frank which is where his obsession began. ” I cheered for him with such inordinate enthusiasm , that after a time he came to be my alter ego, that part of me which had it’s being in the competitive world of men. I came, as incredible as it seems to me now, to believe that I was some actual instrument in his success. Each time I heard the roar of the crowd , it roared in my ears as much for me as him; that roar was not only a promise of my fame, it was it’s unequivocal assurance. ” I can think of example where authors , at least for a short time, become so invested in their creations that the lines between reality and fiction blurred, I imagine the same has been true of historians doing an in depth biography of an historical personage but I seriously doubt anyone has combined those two types of borderline delusions as deeply as Mr. Exley did with Kathy Lee’s spouse. In a way it’s a shame for even though A Fan’s Notes did eventually win him at least some of the fame and adulation he coveted ( towards the end of his life he hosted a party where Frank was the guest of honor ) passages in that book and the two much less successful sequels hint at a writer who could have done so much more . It should be no surprise that he basically drank himself into an early grave.

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    • Thanks, Donny! Glad you liked the post!

      And I liked your interesting, eloquent, and sad comment about a book, an author, and the topic of celebrity. “A Fan’s Notes” (which I haven’t read) reminded me a bit of E.R. Greenberg’s “The Celebrant” and its focus on an early 20th-century fan’s obsession/infatuation with New York Giants pitching great Christy Mathewson.

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      • Strange as this might be to report, I can kinda sorta relate.

        I was a fan of Roberto Duran, pugilist, who was born one day after I was. When he beat Leonard in their first bout, I was inspired to take a big chance on my own life, and within months, had moved to New York City to pursue a career in music, which proved a bit too elusive to catch. Were it not for Duran and his manos de piedra, I might have never come.

        Earlier, about a decade, age 20, when Ali was reinstated after his draft board troubles, I took it as a sign and quit college to pursue my own dream: music. A year later, a bit more worse for ear, but hardly wiser, I returned to school.

        Though I have given it some thought (more thought by far than I gave to each of these momentous decisions), I cannot say just why it is that I connected famous boxers to my own musical aspirations, though I do recall Ernie Terrell attempted a singing career. His back-up singers were called The Knockouts. Had I been more able to take a punch, I would probably have enjoyed more success at my chosen work.

        ps the phrase ‘worse for ear’ began its life as a simple typo. But I think now it was no accident.

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        • “…worse for ear” — love it!!! But sorry the music career didn’t work out better, though I know there were a number of worth-it moments.

          I’ve never been that drawn to boxing*, but we all have different things that compel us — and that might inspire us to do things related or not related. Fascinating comment, jhNY, and thanks for sharing some of your personal history.

          * I used to be a big fan of pro football, which is basically as violent as boxing. 😦

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          • I found boxing to be one of the few things in life– guitar-playing is another– that required the whole of my attention, though I only sparred around with a friend once in a while. I think moments of concentration without distraction, are, for me, the most precious and hard to get, and a smack in the head definitely concentrates whatever one can gather of the mind after.

            I was a fan from Floyd Patterson on– in recent years, I have not followed the sport as I once did, though occasionally, I see promising Latin fighters in the lighter weight classes, and I have watched Mayweather not get hit by his opponent in a few bouts. Football is another guilty pleasure.

            I will not defend either sport, or myself, for my enthusiasm.

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            • Well said, jhNY! I’ve never boxed, but I can see how it would require a zone of intense concentration. And when one is in that zone, it can be a transcendent feeling. I get an approximate sense of that occasionally when writing something or when reading a great novel.

              I admired Muhammad Ali a lot — for his boxing prowess and for his guts/integrity when refusing to be inducted into the military during the Vietnam War. I still read boxing stories when reading the sports pages, but the sport is a blur of different boxing associations and few transcendent fighters. And we of course know a lot more now about concussions — which certainly did a number on Ali, among others.

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  5. When it comes to horse-flogging, the kindest sort is: flog a dead one, so:

    In a fictional 19th century Italian kingdom somewhat resembling a real one, there are characters, most derived from a 17th century family history, famous throughout the region and among the populace: the prince Ranuce-Erneste IV, his prime minister Count Mosca, Gina the Contessa de Sanseverino, her nephew Fabizio del Dongo, the poet-patriot Ferrante, etc.

    Of course, since these days I refer to few other books, comparatively, it is almost superfluous to add that the book to which I refer is Stendahl’s The Charterhouse of Parma.

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      • Among the many astute observations of people and mores contained in the book, Stendahl describes with humor and at some length the corrosive effects of absolute power on its possessor, Ranuce-Erneste IV, who is inspired to pose as a sort of tiny Louis XIV over his tiny empire. If Louis was the Sun King, Ranuce-Erneste is a light bulb, who literally keeps his eye on a portrait of his idol during his dealings with his ministers and courtiers, imagining he is doing right when he imagines he is doing what the French king might do. His fear of rebellion and his furious defense of his crown has caused him to imprison not a few of his more unruly subjects, which in turn makes him suspect that their supporters and relatives might wish to take revenge, so that he has his ministers, on his darkest nights, search all over the royal apartments, including under beds, for assassins, despite the ten bolts on each of his doors, and his guard of eighty sentinels.

        “…on the field of battle he has been seen a score of times leading a column to attack like a gallant general.. but on his return to his States, where, unfortunately for him he possesses unlimited power, he set to work to inveigh in the most senseless fashion against Liberal and liberty. Presently he began to imagine that he was hated; finally, in a moment of ill temper, he had two Liberals hanged, who may or may not have been guilty….From that fatal moment the Prince’s life changed; we find him tormented by the strangest suspicions.”

        Uneasy lies the crown on the head of an absolute monarch with absolute power, which corrupts absolutely. Infamy even of an impulsive, petty and petulant sort, is one variety of fame.

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        • So eloquent, jhNY! Absolute monarchs are kind of the ultimate celebrities — but hardly positive for their subjects and, often, hardly positive for themselves in a way, as you note.

          Another 19th-century French author, Alexandre Dumas, also interestingly depicted monarchs in some of his work — including “The Three Musketeers” and its sequels.

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    • Thank you, Roz!

      Come to think of it, many of my favorite novels also don’t star characters famous in their fictional realms. “Jane Eyre,” “The Grapes of Wrath,” “The Age of Innocence,” “Crime and Punishment,” “Daniel Deronda,” Elsa Morante’s “History,” etc. (Though Raskolnikov of “C&P” becomes kind of notorious after he confesses…)

      I guess a good number of classics have protagonists who are an “everyman” or “everywoman” in some ways.

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  6. Hi Dave, the one novel that first came to mind was “Sister Carrie,” by Theodore Dreiser. I read this many, many years ago, so I had to go to Wikipedia to remind me of the details. Carrie is a young country woman, raised in obscurity in Wisconsin. After she goes to live with her sister and her husband in Chicago, she eventually becomes involved in a few affairs as a “kept woman” (I really hate that term, but I don’t know what else to call it back in the days in which the novel takes place). One of these relationships brings her to New York City, and she becomes a chorus girl. She is very talented and beautiful, so she goes on to become a famous actress. I loved this novel, and so I tried to get into “An American Tragedy” but only made it for a few chapters Perhaps if I try it again, it will be more interesting to me now.

    As for something more recent, I’ll once again mention “Where’d You Go, Bernadette,” by Maria Semple. The father of the main character, Bee, is a Microsoft guru who is famous for a TED talk, and the mother is a famous revolutionary architect. The cover of the book makes it look like “chick lit,” another word I don’t like to use, but it is a send-up of Seattle’s culture (where the author lives), as well as being very funny, moving and innovative in its use of communications rather than just prose.

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    • I also read “Sister Carrie” a long time ago, Kat Lib, so I appreciate the summary! A novel that really fits this topic. Emile Zola’s controversial “Nana” also features a “kept woman” of sorts (yes, an uncomfortable phrase) who becomes quite well known, though she doesn’t have Carrie Meeber’s career trajectory.

      Definitely sounds like “Where’d You Go, Bernadette” also has its famous characters. Bee’s mom and dad sound like one of those proverbial power couples!

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      • Actually, Bee’s parents aren’t exactly a power couple. Bernadette is for most of the novel a severe agoraphobic personality. But I must say that this quirk makes the novel more interesting (and funnier).

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        • Oops — wrong assumption on my part. Hard to feel powerful when feeling so anxious. But, as you say, that can make a character more interesting and, in some cases, more sympathetic.

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  7. Several of John Grisham’s protagonists are well known in their legal circles. Mitch McDeere (The Firm), was known for generating fees in the millions for his law firm. His young age, ambition, and ability to bring in wealthy clients made him a favourite associate with the firm’s partners.

    Clay Carter (The King of Torts) started out as a low paid public defender, but soon launched his own high dollar firm after working on a case involving a pharmaceutical company. Paralegals and other attorneys who worked for him were impressed with his “started-from-the-bottom-but-now-I’m-on-top” story.

    Nicholas Easter (Runaway Jury) was a juror on a civil case involving big tobacco. He became somewhat of a trusted, go-to person in the eyes of his fellow jurors. His sharp mind and seemingly easy-going ways impressed him. As the foreman, he convinced the jury to deliver an unprecedented verdict for the plaintiff. Carter and his girlfriend eventually escaped to the Caribbean as a very wealthy couple after a series of calculating, manipulative, and financially risky moves.

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    • Ana, great subcategory — attorneys and other law-related people with some celebrity. In addition to the excellent examples you gave, others could include attorneys Reggie Love of Grisham’s “The Client,” Mick Haller of Michael Connelly’s “The Lincoln Lawyer,” and Judy Carrier of Lisa Scottoline’s “The Vendetta Defense.”

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  8. Great post Dave and good morning and as you said Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre is unforgettable so is Mikael Blomkvist in Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and its sequels, How in real life would Michael cover this 2016 election when Donald trump have shown his ugly self.
    So is Lisbeth Salander in the same series such a remarkable character.

    Now right after the passing of Ms. Harper Lee..all the characters are memorable. Boo Radley is unforgettable . As one of the human mockingbirds of TKAM, Boo Radley was an innocent and harmless man accused of crimes he did not commit. Sadly he was absent in WSAW.

    Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen all the characters are unforgettable, how About Mr. Darcy ? Even today women of all ages at one time or other in their life romanticize him and as we see in the bookshelves modern day writers are still trying to bring him to life.

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    • Thanks, bebe! So glad you recommended Stieg Larsson’s riveting trilogy to me. 🙂 Definitely other “celebrities” in those novels, too — Lisbeth Salander, as you rightly noted, both for her computer-hacking prowess and when she was unjustly labeled a criminal. Blomkvist’s publisher/sometimes “girlfriend” was also prominent, as were several government and law-enforcement people who turned out to be REAL criminals. So much corruption depicted by Larsson!

      Great point — Blomkvist would have a field day investigating Trump and various other U.S. politicians.

      And thanks for the thoughts on Jane Austen and the much-admired Mr. Darcy, and for mentioning “To Kill a Mockingbird.” The “TKAM” version of Atticus Finch was also pretty darn famous in his town, with racists hating him and the African-American citizens and more tolerant white people respecting him.

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      • Also of course Atticus was famous but we talk about him all the time so I dropped in Boo`s existence who basically was only known to Scout and Jem.
        As you have mentioned Dave beloved teacher Mr. Chipping in James Hilton’s Goodbye, Mr. Chips.unforgettable character.

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            • Here’s Lulu at 15(!) on Brit teevee, 1964, I think. The song is a surprisingly soulful cover of the Isley Brothers’ Shout! (also famously covered by Joey Dee and the Starlighters).

              To those of you who know her mostly from the movie ballad, this performance may surprise.

              A friend, Charlie Coffils, drummer for Cartoone, a Scottish band that recorded in the late ’60’s, was ever grateful to Lulu for the band’s start in the biz– she too is a Scot, and a generous one, when it came to giving her fellow Scots a leg up.

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          • “If you wanted the sky, I would write across the sky in letters, that would soar a thousand feet high, to sir…..with loveee”

            LOVE THAT SONG. Don’t get me started, bebe. I just scored some sweet seats for the Journey & Doobie Brothers and Steely Dan concerts this summer. So I feel very music-y right now:)

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            • Me too….and I looked at the profile picture..awesome with fall colors. I love spring we are far away from that but still it promises for a abundance of colors in future. Oh sadly I broke my fabulous bird bath, the letters at the top…I need to find time to glue hopeful could fix it back.

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              • It seems like spring comes earlier and earlier each year. There are signs all over my area (animals, plants and flowers blooming in my yard), so I’m looking forward to spring.

                For your birdbath, you need some type of adhesive specially designed for concrete. Try this product called Liquid Nails. My dad used to keep tubes of that stuff around the garage (lol…like he was a Canadian Bob Vila or something). I remember that it was pretty strong. Check out Lowe’s or any hardware/home improvement store in your area. I’m sure they will have it in stock plus it’s not expensive.

                Bondo’s all-purpose putty is strong too. Only problem is you have to work fast because it dries quickly. So either Liquid Nails or Bondo’s putty should take care of your birdbath repair. Good luck:)

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                • Great…the letters at the top was some gel I don`t know. I was trying to clean before putting it away. The bath fell on the concrete and broke into pieces. I might go to home depot and take a few pieces and ask them. Thanks for the tips.
                  It is messy and wet snow..today, but weekend should be in the 50`s.
                  Do you know a plant ming arelia. I had a gorgeous one started from a pea size one from my Nashville neighbor. It was absolutely beautiful. Anyways I took it out to water when the temp was upper 20`s for an hour. Then the plant went through a shock and shedded everything except the stem remains. Each day I check and see some dot size green coming out.
                  First time I saw a sign I was thrilled..hey it is alive after all !

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          • Try the earlier movie version of Goodbye Mr. Chips with Robert Donat– the make-up is a bit , okay, more than a bit hokey, but Donat is so good!

            Perhaps you too have a spot in your heart for him for his great, subtle and tender performance in Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps. I know that’s what I brought to the picture….

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            • jhNY, I never saw the “Goodbye, Mr. Chips” movie; only read the novel. But I did see — and loved — “The 39 Steps.” Robert Donat was excellent in that film, as was Madeleine Carroll.

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              • He may just be my all-time favorite male lead– an opinion based largely on his performance in The 39 Steps– we try to watch it yearly at my place.

                Ever see him in Knight Without Armor? Compelling performance there too. Plus Dietrich as a Russian noble lady– strange, good stuff!

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                • Haven’t seen “Knight Without Armor,” but Marlene Dietrich was pretty amazing on the screen, too. And there’s a literary connection there — I believe she and “All Quiet on the Western Front” author Erich Maria Remarque were an item for a while. I’ve also read that Remarque partly based the Joan Madou character in “Arch of Triumph” on Dietrich.

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                  • Mandy’s father was blessed with good looks, and as a young medic in the European theater in 1944 was also blessed by kisses: he was kissed at a USO do by Marlene Dietrich, and by Madeleine Carroll on an English train. Morale boosters of the first order, those kisses.

                    Funny how both actresses come up over the course of this l’il thread.

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                    • Yes, quite a coincidence that those two actresses were each mentioned. And getting kissed by both Marlene Dietrich and Madeleine Carroll is a third “M”: Memorable!

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  9. Thank you for the info on Terry Pratchett’s book Unseen Academicals, Dave. Sounds like an interesting read and one I will add to my list. And, who can not love those villains you mention? After all, without their evil exploits, where would a hero be?

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    • Thanks, Jack! I knew Terry Pratchett would be entertaining, but I guess I didn’t expect “Unseen Academicals” to also be so…not sure of the word…humanitarian?

      And well said about villains! So true! We may not want them around in real life, but in literature they are so compelling and often necessary.

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  10. Hi Dave, I’m curious about what you thought of Pratchett? I’ve read a couple of his short stories, but didn’t became the fan that so many other people are. I’m starting to think that I must have been in the wrong headspace or something, as he’s obviously very talented.

    After reading just your title this week, I straight away thought of Harry Potter. Though it helps that I watched the first movie only yesterday. Growing up with muggles, Harry of course has no idea who he is, but it doesn’t take long for the wizarding world to explain it to him. And like any celebrity, Harry soon has his own fan club and followers and reporters… and haters. Gotta have the haters. You’re not really famous unless there’s a bunch of people telling you why you don’t deserve it!

    I did of course go on to read the rest of the blog, which is terrific as always. It might only be within our little online community, but you are by far the most famous literature blogger I know, and with very good reason 🙂

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    • I liked Terry Pratchett’s “Unseen Academicals” a lot. Very funny, but there also was a real human element to it (despite some characters not being human 🙂 ) one doesn’t always find in comic works. Also, I was impressed that Pratchett wrote the 2009 novel after he had been sadly diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease two years earlier.

      Harry Potter is indeed VERY famous in his world. Heck, as you allude to, he even has unscrupulous celebrity reporter Rita Skeeter on his case! And terrific point, Susan, that celebs often attract haters — often because the haters are envious, of course.

      And thanks so much for the very kind words in your last paragraph! Much appreciated! At best, I’m a tiny bit known in a tiny sphere. 🙂

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  11. Dave,
    I can’t help but think of Jack Ryan from the Tom Clancy books. During the book “Debt of Honor” Ryan goes from a brand new relatively unknown National Security Adviser to Vice-President, and what he deals with becoming famous to being VP makes for an interesting secondary plot to the book.

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    • Excellent addition to this discussion, GL! Thanks! Sounds like the fame factor makes what’s probably an interesting novel (I’ve never read Tom Clancy) into an even more interesting novel.

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  12. And then there are really famous real people who wind up in books of fiction in which they’re also famous. A perfect example is Richard Nixon in “The Public Burning,” by Robert Coover, one of the most intense and fascinating works of fiction I’ve ever read. In fact, Nixon narrates about half the book, in Coover’s wild imagination at least.

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    • Thanks, Bill! Not sure if the very intriguing-sounding “The Public Burning” is historical fiction per se, but that genre definitely has appearances by many real-life famous people. Joan of Arc in Mark Twain’s “Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc,” Emma Goldman in E.L. Doctorow’s “Ragtime,” Sam Walton in Billie Letts’ “Where the Heart Is,” and so many others.

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      • Tours of the Black Clock by Steve Erickson features, among other unlikely exotics, a fictional Hitler– who wins WWII and lives to senility– based on real-life Hitler, sexual quirks and all, who didn’t.

        Liked by 1 person

          • Erickson set himself some high bars to credulity over which he insisted he had jumped– as a reader, I found the declarations were not altogether persuasive– a major character, a secret half-Native American, murders his family then sets off to the big city (New York) where, through pluck and daring, he eventually becomes Hitler’s private pornographer, then, after moving to be closer to his paymaster, he meets a girl who inspires his best work and who fathers him a son, who, in turn, becomes a ferry boat captain by default (the old cap dies), but, mythically, contrives for years to never set foot on dry land. There is also a sort of architectural diagram of a map of a blueprint of the twentieth century that figures in, detectives, an entirely camouflaged Venice (from above),dances to the death, a terrible fire and suddenly, ice buffalo!!! Also, more.

            He did, on the back of this book, receive praise from Thomas Pynchon, unsurprisingly.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Ha — an author of complex novels blurbed a…complex novel. Is it possible that some books (such as “The Public Burning”) are just TOO original? 🙂

              Fantastic summary!

              Like

  13. “Who is John Galt?” I’m sure you know that John Galt is the very famous “hero” of Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged”. It’s been YEARS since I read it, but I recall that John Galt was so mysterious that many people didn’t even believe he actually existed, but his name became a household word.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, lulabelle! As you know, I’ve never read Ayn Rand, but that sounds like a great example of a fictional character famous in his/her fictional world. And Ms. Rand was famous for railing against government benefits yet collecting Social Security and Medicare… 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      • Speaking of ‘railing’, it’s but too funny that this future-tensed dystopian novel of three-dimensional decay and two-dimensional characters, centers on– in 1957– a railroad. Had the author but looked out the window, she might have noted that railroads, as a mode of travel, were already passe– which makes her future a kind of looking backward, but not the good kind, which requires Bellamy authorship..

        Liked by 1 person

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