Feb. 21st, 2013

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Day 15 – Favorite male character

This one is difficult because that is not the way I read books. I have favourite characters in films and tv shows, but in books? Not so much. Actually my favourite books don't necessarily have characters I would call favourites, or even likable, and my favourite books are not necessarily novels (this meme seems to be mostly about novels btw).

Among the most intriguing and poignant literary characters, there's Lorenzo de Médicis in the play Lorenzaccio by Alfred de Musset.

Of course I also love my damaged cops from my crime novels, especially the Harrys! Jo Nesbø's Harry Hole is a character I love to bits, just like I love Connelly's Harry Bosch. One fo the appeals of reading a new crime story is to see again those characters.

Also Paul Atreides from Dune, obviously.

And there's Victor Hugues from the wonderful El Siglo de Las Luces by Alejo Carpentier (known as Explosion in a Cathedral in English). I remember that I was very impressed by the character when I first read the novel. The neat thing is that Victor Hugues did exist, but it was one of those people that were involved in French Revolution but whom we know very little about, so Alejo Carpentier could do as he pleased when he "created" him. I was drawn to Victor Hugues much more than to Esteban who is presumably, along Sofia, the main character.

Day 16 – Favorite female character

Same problem. I don't think I have a favorite literary female character. Unfortunately my favourite writers tend to be males and they mostly write male characters, or rather they write male characters better than female ones.

The protagonist in Brazzaville Beach by William Boyd, Hope Clearwater, is a good character but I don't see myself calling her my favourite female character ever!

Of course there's Jane Eyre...or the Austen heroines (Elizabeth Benett mostly), but as strong as they are there's something about those English girls that turn me off. I guess it's the time they live in and the necessary romantic happy ending they get.  If I should go British I'd rather pick Alison, the Wife of Bath, created by Chaucer for The Canterbury Tales!

If I should go French I'd choose either Phèdre from Phèdre by Racine or Camille from Horace by Pierre Corneille, strong-willed and yet tragic heroines. I have a soft spot for Mathilde de La Mole from Le Rouge et Le Noir by Stendhal.

Day 17 – Favorite quote from your favorite book

Well it's one of my favourite books anyway. The quote is from Mendelsohn's The Lost, which I already posted it on here, years ago. Before this extract, Daniel Mendelsohn recalls Rashi's and Rabbi Friedman's exegesis of the Sodom and Gomorrah tale from Genesis, or rather of the meaning of the transformation of Lot's wife, and then he offers his own explanation here:

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And here is a quote from Les Faux Monnayeurs by André Gide :

"Dans le domaine des sentiments, le réel ne se distingue pas de l'imaginaire. Et, s'il suffit d'imaginer qu'on aime, pour aimer, ainsi suffit-il de se dire qu'on imagine aimer, quand on aime, pour aussitôt aimer un peu moins, et même pour se détacher un peu de ce qu'on aime - ou en détacher quelques cristaux."

Day 18 – A book that disappointed you

I tend to forget those. But as of late, I gave a try to G. R. R Martin's series (A Song of Ice and Fire) on kindle, out of curiosity since I watch the tv show Game of Thrones, and found the books poorly written.

Day 19 – Favorite book turned into a movie

Turning a book into a movie is some tricky business, and, actually, most of the time I fear that my favourite books might be turned into movies. I remember hating what David Lynch did with Dune for instance.

Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Choderlos de Laclos is a good book, although not a favourite book of mine, and one my favourite movie adaptations is Stephen Frears' Dangerous Liaisons (or to be fair it's rather an adaptation of Christopher Hampton's play). Neither Glenn Close nor John Malkovich looked the part, and both were too old to play Merteuil and Valmont (who are supposed to be in their 20's!), but it worked beautifully (and Malkovich is hot as hell in it). Sometimes a good adaptation needs to betray a little for it's more about the spirit than about the letter.

I also love what the Coen brothers did with Cormac MacCarthy's No Country for Old Men (while the film based on The Road wasn't very good, in spite of Viggo Mortensen's performance) or what Debra Granik did with Winter's Bone (but in that case I saw the film before I read the book).

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