From Captain Ahab to Yuri Zhivago, discover the most remarkable characters in fiction.
Huckleberry Finn, Anna Karenina, Harry Potter, Hester Prynne . . . these are just a handful of remarkable characters found in literature, but of course the list is virtually endless! But why ponder which of these creations are the greatest? More than just a topic to debate with friends, the greatest characters from fiction help readers comprehend history, culture, politics, and even their own place in today’s world. Despite our reliance on television, film, and technology, it is literature’s great characters that create and reinforce popular culture, informing us again and again about society and ourselves.
In The 100 Greatest Literary Characters, James Plath, Gail Sinclair, and Kirk Curnutt identify the most significant figures in fiction published over the past several centuries. The characters profiled here represent a wide array of storytelling, and the authors explore the significance of the figures at the time they were created as well as their relevance today. Included in this volume are characters from literature produced around the world, such as Aladdin, James Bond, Holden Caulfield, Jay Gatsby, Hercule Poirot, Don Quixote, Lisbeth Salander, Ebenezer Scrooge, Jean Valjean, and John Yossarian.
Readers will find their beloved literary figures, learn about forgotten gems, or discover deserving choices pulled from history’s dustbin. Providing insights into how literature shapes and molds culture via these fabricated figures, The 100 Greatest Literary Characters will appeal to literature lovers around the globe.
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers; July 2019
- ISBN: 9781538103760
- Read online, or download in secure PDF or secure ePub format
- Title: The 100 Greatest Literary Characters
- Author: James Plath; Gail Sinclair; Kirk Curnutt
Imprint: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
In The Press
Greatest-list books inevitably spark discussion, and this fascinating work is no exception. Literary scholarsPlath, Sinclair, and Cunatt define their hundred greatest novel- and short story-characters as time-honored favorites that have influenced culture or have become significant literary models. They consulted previous lists and then polled 100 writers, professors, librarians, teachers, and book lovers to make an inclusive list that covers classics, children's books, contemporary literature, and genre fiction. Organized alphabetically by character name, each two-page entry lists the title and author of the character's first appearance, date published, and a memorable quote. These very readable essays analyze what is important about the character and why readers are fascinated by them. They also discuss the character's portrayal in movies—Sherlock Holmes, for example—and the character's lasting impact on culture, such as the way Scrooge is shorthand for a miser. The editors expect debate over the contents: why was Philip Marlowe chosen over Sam Spade, Mr. Darcy instead of Elizabeth Bennett, or Winnie-the-Pooh and not Mr. Toad? Students, librarians, and readers will enjoy the lively debate this book generate.
About The Author
James Plath is R. Forrest Colwell Chair of English at Illinois Wesleyan University, and the author of six books, most recently John Updike’s Pennsylvania Interviews (2017).
Gail Sinclair is scholar-in-residence and executive director of the Winter Park Institute at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida. She is the coauthor of Key West Hemingway: A Reassessment (2009).
Kirk Curnutt is the chair and professor of English at Troy University in Troy, Alabama. He is the author or coauthor of 17 books, among them Understanding Gay Talese (2019) and William Faulkner (2017).