Madame Bovary, C'est Moi: The Great Characters of Literature and Where They Came From

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9780393051810: Madame Bovary, C'est Moi: The Great Characters of Literature and Where They Came From

The struggles and inspirations that gave birth to our great writers' most memorable creations.

A delightful compendium of wit and information, this book takes us on a casual stroll through literary history as the world's most successful writers sought just the right name, or just the right tone, or just the right prop, for the hero or heroine of their works.

How did Nero Wolfe in Fer-de-Lance by Rex Stout end up with the name of a Roman emperor? Was Tolstoy's Anna Karenina based on a real person? Why was Hercule Poirot, the great inspector in the mysteries of Agatha Christie, a Belgian rather than a Frenchman? Why was Long John Silver missing a foot? Under what circumstances did J. R. R. Tolkien conceive of a "hobbit"? In this charming collection of anecdotes, we are taken to the very heart of the mystery of literary creation. For as Virginia Woolf once wrote, "If the characters are real the novel will have a chance." 30 line drawings

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About the Author:

André Bernard is the trade publisher of Harcourt, a regular columnist for The American Scholar, and the author of Now All We Need Is a Title.

From Publishers Weekly:

The nonfiction equivalent of light verse, this delightful set of characterological inquiries into the real life origins of the likes of Jay Gatsby, Holly Golightly and Godot finds a serious reader sleuthing after gossipy backstories. The trade publisher of Harcourt and a regular columnist for the American Scholar, Bernard is no stranger to the literary life, or, as his Rotten Rejections: Literary Short Takes has already shown, to making light of it. In a series of brief essays arranged alphabetically by the character under discussion, he here finds that Scarlett O'Hara was called Pansy by Margaret Mitchell until her publisher protested against "unhappy associations"; that Shandy (as in Tristram) is Yorkshire dialect for unsteady or addled; that the real Miss Lonelyhearts was actually female (unlike Nathanael West's character) and wrote a column for a Brooklyn newspaper. Readers will find many of their most beloved literary companions here, along with 30 line drawings of items relating to some of the characters, from a martini glass (for Holly Golightly of Breakfast at Tiffany's) to a bat (Dracula, of course). And Bernard takes great care not to spoil one's illusions about Huck Finn, Jack Torrance or Winnie-the-Pooh, leaving their fictional extensions from life fully intact. Sidebars and italicized quotations ("There is no such thing as a 'minor' character in Dostoevski," said F. Scott Fitzgerald) add to the fun.
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