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Who are your favorite protagonists?

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Zum
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Posted 08/20/09 - 6:20 PM:
Subject: Who are your favorite protagonists?
I got this idea from Smokin.

I'll start. I was addicted to the Aubrey-Maturin series by Patrick O'Brian. The action all takes place in the early 19th century, on the high seas. For his research, the author pored through the ships' logs of the period and, in his novels, recounted real sea battles, maneuver by maneuver, shot by shot. He's good: the prose thumps as hard as Charles Dickens'; Patrick Tull, one of the best oral interpreters for Books on Tape, read all twenty books.

Despite its fidelity to ships' logs, the books are adventure-escape-pretend stuff... The author wanted the coolest protagonist he could lawfully have. A shrewd craftsmen, he knew that his generation would not buy anyone who had all the virtues. But he WANTED all the virtues.

So he used two people. They are the captain and the ship's surgeon. He linked them through friendship. To have a friendship at the heart of twenty books is to ensure a lot of readers--all other things being expertly done.

He got a combined protagonist who had these traits: fearlessness, superb seamanship; the ability to trepanne a skull at sea; a vast knowledge of botany, an expertise with languages, verbal wit, a sanguine nature, physical attractiveness, bellicosity, distaste for fighting, an Irish background, a Catalonian background, a British background, a superb ability to keep secrets, the joys of a successful marriage, the miseries of an unsuccessful one.
smokinpristiformis
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Posted 08/21/09 - 1:51 AM:

I sort of made such a thread in Dust Bunnies but it drowned a bit. I suppose Nighteyes doesn't have such a big fan base after all. sticking out tongue

I'm all for sea battles. Blood 'n guts, bloodred/powderblack-coloured smoke and hellfire. Although the guy/girl with the smarts to save the day with devious manouvres get my vote also. smiling face
What does trepanne mean? I'm always interested to learn what interesting things happen to skulls. sticking out tonguenod

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Posted 08/21/09 - 2:24 AM:

smokinpristiformis wrote:

What does trepanne mean? I'm always interested to learn what interesting things happen to skulls. sticking out tonguenod



Yes,I am equally interested to know.
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Posted 08/21/09 - 2:43 AM:

I like Sherlock Holmes. It is evident that so many of us do.


Sherlock Holmes has so many exclusive traits,besides a great genius.

He is a unique observer. Nothing escapes his attention.

He has written so many monographs.

Some of them,on identifying scents,others on identifying faces and some other on identifying soils of various types.


He has a nonchalant commitment with each and everyone of his cases. No emotional entanglement,only detached observation of all particulars.


His observation of particulars goes beyond the normal.

His observations,meticulously done here and there,contribute in creating a unified conjecture based on elimination of all impossibles,so you are left with that which 'must be' true.


His expertise in Chemistry helps him in solving puzzles of criminology.


His remarkable deductive reasoning and astute observation often leave his visitors obfuscated. He often seems to have some miraculous clairvoyance or claircognizance,which is based on simple observations as well as complex reasoning of his.


He has Dr. Watson,as a friend,as an accomplice as well as a narrator.


Dr. Watson is equally puzzled by methods of Holmes and he tries to learn them so as to become an equally well detective.


Sir Arthur Conan Doyle created the legend of Holmes,in early twentieth century background.


Long live Holmes!
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Posted 08/21/09 - 3:15 AM:

I made a reference to Granny Weatherwax in another thread. I've seen it has had a bit of an impact already (see Thinker's avy), so I suppose I owe a bit of an explanation. grin

Granny Weatherwax is a Terry Pratchett character (like Commander Vimes). She's a witch. The thing about Terry's witches is that they don't particularily like eachother. It's a bit like bee queens - they challenge eachother. Although they do tend to gather in tiny covens.
So Mistress (!) Weatherwax is the most powerful witch all around. She lives in the tiny mountain kingdom of Lancre. Dresses like a raven. She's the real thing as a witch and witching is all about making an impression. The pointy hat, the tealeaves, the mumbling of all sorts of spells and curses... It's really all show. They call it headology. It makes people do most of the witching work themselves.
There's more than enough power in Mistress Weatherwax is to live up to her reputation, but the important thing is to know when not to use magic.

Granny Weatherwax has a mind like solid rock. She never gets lost because she always knows where she is. Rather, it's the world around her that is sometimes temporarily misplaced. She always knows how to find herself, even if she habitually leaves her body for a while.
She's also a nasty, wicked old crone. At least, that's the impression she leaves everywhere she goes (but it's largely true anyway). And that, my friends, is really what witchcraft is all about. That, and a bit of magic too. By the way, her broomstick needs some maintenance, if you know any good dwarf broom-mechanics.
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Posted 08/21/09 - 3:19 AM:

Sherlock Holmes, king of the one-liners. nod Detectives are not usually my cup of tea, but I really should get cracking on some classics. Thanks for reminding me, Thinker.
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Posted 08/21/09 - 3:48 AM:

smokinpristiformis wrote:
I made a reference to Granny Weatherwax in another thread. I've seen it has had a bit of an impact already (see Thinker's avy), so I suppose I owe a bit of an explanation. grin



Indeed.


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Posted 08/21/09 - 3:48 AM:

smokinpristiformis wrote:
Sherlock Holmes, king of the one-liners. nod Detectives are not usually my cup of tea, but I really should get cracking on some classics. Thanks for reminding me, Thinker.



Welcome.
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Posted 08/21/09 - 4:21 AM:

Trepanation as well as Lobotomy seem to be very old practices,which have been replaced with drugs.




Zum
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Posted 08/21/09 - 8:53 AM:

O'Brian gets some great scenes out of trepanning. If somebody takes a great clout on the head and goes into a coma, the surgeon or next best person cuts a hole in the skull in order to relieve the pressure and prevent brain damage. Maturin is especially good at this sort of thing; he can do it in a rocking boat, on deck, before an audience.
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Posted 08/21/09 - 11:40 AM:

Zum wrote:
O'Brian gets some great scenes out of trepanning. If somebody takes a great clout on the head and goes into a coma, the surgeon or next best person cuts a hole in the skull in order to relieve the pressure and prevent brain damage. Maturin is especially good at this sort of thing; he can do it in a rocking boat, on deck, before an audience.




eekdisapprovaleek
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Posted 08/21/09 - 12:59 PM:

On the other hand, neither half of O'Brian's joint protagonist is any good at things the author doesn't care about: gardening, homemaking, taking care of money.
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Posted 08/22/09 - 4:05 AM:

Sherlock Holmes is humane,all too humane. This is one of the perspicuous reasons,he strikes me as one of favorites. He has no mutant powers,no webs,no anti-gravity powers. It is why antagonists are also humane, devoid of any extrasensory perception, or something weird.


Holmes is an eternal bachelor,least romantic of protagonists. There has scarcely been any mention of his family,lineage,upbringing or friends other than Watson. He is one of the finest boxers of his weight. He has much muscular power to exert himself,whenever needed. Though he detests exercise for sake of exercise only and considers it as a wastage of energy in a fruitless way. He takes many long afternoon walks. He is an accomplished actor. He often plays violin. His music soothes soul of Watson and often he gets solution to many of his problems intuitively. He keeps on smoking tobacco cigars and occasionally takes solace in cocaine,especially in absence of mental challenges. It is perhaps only vice in his conduct. He prefers solitude. He is not fond of money or fame. He has a little bit of proud in his extraordinary mental prowess,in his deductive reasoning,in his method.






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Posted 08/22/09 - 5:54 AM:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Underground_Man_(novel)

Sounds like a true romantic madman. Good choice, Yahweh smiling face
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Posted 08/22/09 - 6:17 AM:

smokinpristiformis wrote:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Underground_Man_(novel)

Sounds like a true romantic madman. Good choice, Yahweh smiling face



Underground man of Dostovesky


Sounds like an existentialist. An equally good choice!






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Posted 08/22/09 - 10:56 AM:

I got the wrong underground man? Dang. rolling eyes
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Posted 08/22/09 - 11:08 AM:

smokinpristiformis wrote:
I got the wrong underground man? Dang. rolling eyes


Not necessarily. It would be the call of Yahweh which shall decide this matter,methinks.zen
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Posted 08/22/09 - 12:19 PM:

Watchmen had some interesting characters. Dr. Manhattan strikes as the most powerful one. He has a God like status. He is capable of creating another universe for himself.smiling face




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Zum
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Posted 08/24/09 - 8:37 AM:

Oh, thanks for clarifying. Yeah. Nobody could represent Dostroyevski's alienated guy better.

The guy in Sartre's Nausea resembles him somewhat...
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Posted 08/24/09 - 12:21 PM:

Zum wrote:
Oh, thanks for clarifying. Yeah. Nobody could represent Dostroyevski's alienated guy better.

The guy in Sartre's Nausea resembles him somewhat...



Indeed. Some of the paragraphs of aforementioned book strike you in particular.smiling face
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Posted 09/05/09 - 8:02 PM:

The adventurer in Rogue Male by Geoffrey Household. I don't think he tells us his name. That's just like him. (The book is written in the first person.) The story is set just before World War II; our man is a wealthy Brit who amuses himself risking his life in various ways. The woman he loves returns to Germany just prior to Hitler's ascendancy and is killed there. The protagonist apparently takes her death stoically, but he is more vexed than he knows. (That part is handled well.) He decides to go to Germany for a little hunting expedition.
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Posted 09/06/09 - 11:03 AM:

Household's character doesn't intend to kill the Great Man, as he ironically calls him. He just wants to have him in his cross hairs, for the symbolic revenge. Or so he tells us.

The complexity of this adventurer may be self-mockery on the part of the British author.
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Posted 10/04/09 - 11:14 AM:

Hamlet.

Anybody who says that the play is a tragedy about a man who could not make up his mind has missed the purport of most of the speeches and failed to understand Shakespeare's project, to my way of thinking. Prior to this play, and since, there have been many works of fiction with protagonists who made up their minds, but they bore little resemblance to real humans--that is, they said and did many things, but they lacked human psychology--a real human dimension. They were characters drawn up to fulfill the needs of the plot. "Let's make these things happen. Okay. Now we'll put a man in there and have him do them. Okay." The protagonists were like comic book characters.

I would never put down the comics, okay? It's just that I think Shakespeare wanted to do something different with this play...

He put a real man, with a real set of human traits, into an utterly impossible situation. (There are, by the way, as everyone knows, on the one hand, the myths about masculinity and, on the other hand, men.)

He gave the character many of the traits he himself had, let's say:

An inability to lie to himself about what was going on around him. A tendency to see through others' lies, whether he likes it or not. A sensitivity that requires him to "smell" the crimes of others. An affectionate nature.

A tendency to rashness. A dram of evil. An excitable body. A love of elegant chatter.

This man is put into a situation that is as cruel and preposterous as many that occur in real life; he is surrounded by second-rate self-servers and career-seekers who see only a few things.

The protagonist's journey toward stoicism, toward acceptance of his circumstances, is the spiritual dimension of the play, according my reading. Meanwhile, a lot of exciting stuff happens: the protagonist feigns madness. (The best analysis I know of that was done by Edgar Allen Poe.) Various people get killed. There is a duel; one of the swords has a poisoned tip, etc.

At the beginning the protagonist is submerged in grief; the emotional condition described is the dislocation and alienation that is of the fabric of nineteenth and twentieth century existentialist literature. "How weary, pale, flat and unprofitable seem to me the uses of this world!" This resembles the condition called "depression" today.

As stated above, he always knows what's up. His father dies mysteriously, his mother marries right away. He says, "It cannot and it will not come to good." Very true. Some circumstances are like that... Later Hamlet learns that, sure enough, his mother has married his father's murderer. "Oh, my prophetic soul!" he says. (Damn! I knew it! I knew it!) The murderer, incidentally, is his uncle...

Toward the end, he is called on to play-fight with another character; it is in fact, a murder plot; his opponent means to use an unbated, poisoned sword. Hamlet does not "know" this, but he smells it. He says something like this: You would be surprised at how bad I feel about this arrangement. His friend says, in effect, Then call it off; don't do it, and Hamlet replies, in effect: Never mind. Death is either now, or it is to come. It's only a question of when. The important thing is to be ready.

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Posted 10/26/09 - 3:04 PM:

I would still love to know how Dostoyevski, with his fits and ecstasies and compulsive scribbling habit, imagined Alyosha--that man without guile, who could entertain both love and indifference.
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