It’s a fair cop, guv. I have had lots and lots of crushes on the bold gentlemen of literature.
I thought this to be a straightforward sort of question, until I began to think over the ranks. Good Heavens! Off the top of my head last night, I could name enough men to fill several platoons. If war came, I bet I’d have my own personal battalion of fictional heroes to fight my skirmishes.
In the end, gaping at my own susceptibility, I had to come up with a theory as to why there were so many, and why that was just fine. So I considered the character of these men and discovered a common thread (or seven…). To warrant my attention, a book man must be:
- Strong. No namby-pambies! Lift me some LOGS!
- Courageous. Go get those bad guys at dreadful odds.
- Resourceful. But don’t just run at them. Light your moat on fire.
- Polite. Doff. Your. Hat.
- Gentle. If you’re as strong as all that, don’t get carried away. That’s my prerogative. I get carried away. By you. Not you by your temper.
- Humorous. Take yourself “just seriously enough”. Crack me a joke!
- Boss-Man. Yes, you need to be the leader of the pack. Sorry. No lowly fiefdoms thine. KINGDOMS!
And so I find that I have learned from this. I learned, young, and long ago, to cherish chivalry. I sat before valuable books and learned to expect, appreciate and desire only the manliest of characters. That can’t be bad, right!
So who shall stand forth for this battalion of Men and speak for me today?
The Scarlet Pimpernel!
All together now…..
They seek him here
They seek him there
Those Frenchies seek him EVERYWHERE!
Is he in Heaven?
Or is he in (ahem…)
That Demmed, Elusive PIMPERNEL!
I think , as far as my criteria go, Lord Percy Blakeney is the crowning (possibly also crowing, as my original typo suggested) jewel of my collection. Oh the daring deeds, and subtle soul! Oh, the oddball sense of the ridiculous as he offers his rival pepper instead of snuff! The costuming and swashbuckling and web of deception he wove about himself with his lazy eye and consummately effete mannerisms! Add to this, that I always felt superior to his indolent, petulant, ignorant wife, and you have the recipe for a grand old book crush.
I am not the only person to be fascinated by the Scarlet Pimpernel. Since the Baroness Orczy wrote the book in 1905, it has been made into a play, a musical and a movie (at least 3 movies…I’ve seen two of them). The Scarlet Pimpernel as a book infiltrated culture just like the Scarlet Pimpernel himself did! You may not recognize the references, but they are present! Some are more flattering than others. My favorite reference is in Danny Kaye’s The Court Jester. They find the true king as a baby because on his royal hindquarters, he bears the royal birthmark: The Purple Pimpernel! Anyway.
I do not intend to call the rest of the roster today. It would be cruel thievery of material that my other muse sisters may want to use! However, just to smear the marmalade of my geekery in your face, I will call one of the more obscure heroes of my heart. Price Imrahil of Dol Amroth, step forward with your swan- ship banner high!