Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Literary Matchmaking

You can blame it on a mix of Jane Austen, PBS, and Valentine's Day. Although I've never paid much attention to V-Day (my parents don't really celebrate it, so I never grew up with much respect for the holdiay), it's hard to ignore it completely. So I already had love on the mind before I watched the conclusion to Masterpiece Theater's latest version of Austen's Emma. Misguided Emma Woodhouse is the great matchmaker of literature, and even though she is not as clever at it as she might suppose, she's still famous for her romantic machinations. So she inspired this particular list: literary matchmaking.

Here's how it works. I take two single characters who could use a little excitement in their lives from two separate books (often books from different decades, even centuries), and put them together. This is just a tiny list, but it gives you a pretty nice view of my messed-up literary viewpoints. Just call me the of obscure made-up people. Oh, and be careful - spoilers abound!

1. Cecelia Brady (from The Last Tycoon, by F. Scott Fitzgerald) and Gabriel Gibbs (from The Season of Lillian Dawes, by Katherine Mosby): Call this couple "the loveless narrators." Cecelia, the narrator of Fitzgerald's unfinished critique on Hollywood, harbors a buried crush on protagonist Monroe Stahr while watching him struggle as a producer. Gabriel Gibbs, meanwhile, watches the dramatic love story unfold between his genius older brother Spencer and the mysterious Lillian Dawes, even though he is also in love with Lillian. Cecelia and Gabriel are perfect for each other, with their voyeuristic tendencies and unrequited loves. Not to mention that their author-creators have very similar writing styles.

2. Bryon Douglas (from That Was Then, This is Now, by S.E. Hinton) and Briony Tallis (from Atonement, by Ian McEwan): This is a relationship built mainly on guilt. At the end of Hinton's novel, poor Bryon is unable to cope with his regrets over ruining his best friend's life by getting him thrown in jail. And Briony Tallis might well be one of the guiltiest guilt-trips in contemporary literature, destroying the love affair and lives of her sister and her sister's doomed lover. She attempts to redeem herself by writing a version of their story with a happy ending, but it's no real help to her own torment. Hopefully, these two can find some redemption in each other. Also, look at how cutesy-similar their names are! (On a side note: If you haven't read the book or seen the movie version of Atonement, do so ASAP. I'm not sure there's a better or more dramatic depiction of how writers use others to their own advantages only to find it an impossibly painful task. Also, the narrative techniques used are masterfully-done.).

3. Severus Snape (from the Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling) and Mary Bennet (from Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen): I know, I know. It's a stretch. But come on! Two people who act as if it's their duty to bring down everyone around them could not be more perfect for each other. Both of them are so unpleasant, and yet you can't help but feel quite sorry for them as people. Put these two together, and I think you'd be surprised at the chemistry that might explode. It might be a little tense at first; they might even hate each other. But what's that Shakespeare line? "My only love sprung from my only hate," or something like that? Exactly what would happen here, I think.

So what about all of you, readers? Any literary matches you can imagine?

1 comment:

  1. I am totally and entirely intrigued by the Snape/Mary Bennett match-up. I shall spend all my free time tomorrow contemplating it. Huzzah!