Love In Haroun And The Sea Of Stories

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Love In Haroun And The Sea Of Stories



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Themes portrayed in Haroun and the Sea of Stories

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Enid Blyton's Famous Fiver was the only character who seemed to feel the way I did about adventure, being "one of the lads" and the dullness of domestic duties. A twisted, misshapen figure of a man, one minute he's terrifying and the next he's gentle as a lamb. When he's imprisoned at the end, your heart goes out to him. Philip Roth's Portnoy's Complaint is tragic, hilarious and plain embarrassing. When I first read it aged 17 , I felt guilty for having enjoyed it so much - was my mum watching me read it? When I read it next aged 25 , I found it incredibly moving. At 34, when I read it last, Portnoy became this unashamedly honest Jewish American voice howling at history.

Anna Karenina 's Prince Stepan Arkadyevich Oblonsky is a hopeless philanderer and useless bureaucrat. He has the kindest of hearts but he's also aimless, dumb and pleasure-seeking. Tolstoy's genius is to paint this unblinking portrait, which, rather than alienating, ends up seducing the reader. Vital, passionate, spirited - from the moment Bathsheba appears in Far From the Madding Crowd , she is beguiling.

You can denounce her faults - she's selfish and capricious - but it's hard not to admire her determined independence. Rudyard Kipling describes his hero as an "imp," and that's what makes him one of my most favourite characters. I admire his cheerful arrogance and independence. Georgette Heyer's Horatia Winwood, for her stammer, her dark frowning brows, her impetuous nature and her prodigious shopping habit. There is something appealing about a man who stows his stethoscope under his top hat. Modest to a degree, Watson does not bother us with facts about himself, since Sherlock Holmes is so much more important. His only irritating habit is the way he refers to some of Holmes's cases without telling us the full story.

Polymorphic, unpredictable, unaccountable; omnipotent yet negligent, kind yet vicious. Suitable to any genre or period. Able to hold centre stage in plot, or work subtly in deep background. Never requires a deus ex machina. A character you can immerse yourself in, forever. Essentially, you want to be Psmith: he doesn't care what he says; he gets the money; and he gets the girl.

In spite of all the distracting temptations offered to Dick Diver in F Scott Fitzgerald's Tender is the Night - happiness, success, wealth, glamour, the admiration of others - he realizes that he will only come into his own by becoming a charmless bore, an alcoholic, a lonely failure. What willpower! My Midlands upbringing was almost identical, and I can relate to so many aspects of him. Coe depicts, with heartshaking honesty, that fragile teenage combination of prig and dreamer - the sense of being at the absolute heroic centre of your own life. Thomas Harris's Hannibal Lecter has exquisite taste, is well read, surrounds himself with utter beauty and is the meanest killing machine on the face of the literary earth.

I wouldn't mind him eating my kidneys as long as he fed me an excellent bottle of red wine beforehand. Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom, the serial hero of John Updike's Rabbit tetralogy, is the only protagonist I've grown old with - doomed, but indomitable and lovable. Anita Loos's Gentlemen Prefer Blondes takes the form of Lorelei's diary, which is full of her attempts to snag a rich man. She thinks she's an intellectual, but she's actually a dumb blonde. She's also one of the most ironic, endearing, hilarious, charming characters ever. Where a lesser writer might have cracked, he delivered an incorruptible girl of five, triumphant in her "undestroyed freshness".

Her victory is James's own. Bertie lives life to the full and knows how to enjoy himself. Wodehouse's hero is a wonderful example to anyone who takes it all a bit too seriously. Anne Elliot is the heroine of Jane Austen's last completed novel, Persuasion. She is wise, gentle, patient and oppressed by circumstance. Earlier in life, she was persuaded not to make an unwise match with a young sailor. When the book begins, she has had almost 10 years to regret her decision, yet she is not bitter. There are few such fabulous in the true sense sons in fiction as Haroun in Salman Rushdie's anti-censorship fairy story, Haroun and The Sea of Stories.

Haroun has everything: a silenced storytelling father to save, encounters with water genies and talking hoopoes, and a heroic role in one of the most luminous and resonant tales yet written in praise of freedom of the imagination. Never camp, despite her Gothic surrounds, she takes a scalpel to the skin of the every day. At forty-something, I still believe even the grizzliest grizzly wears a duffle coat and squashy hat and enjoys a marmalade sandwich. Today he'd be repatriated as an asylum-seeker, but I've no doubt Paddington's done much to help the cause of his real-life ursine relatives. Jim Dixon, a lecturer at a provincial university and the anti-hero of Kingsley Amis's comic masterpiece Lucky Jim , is plagued his inability to take academic life seriously.

He signalled the end of automatic deference to our superiors. If "favourite" is meant to summon the daringly and dramatically admirable, then it must be Margaret Schlegel of EM Forster's Howards End. Practicality saves her from wasteful sentimentality, and imagination saves her from cynicism. Elaine Dundy's The Dud Avocado and Truman Capote's Breakfast at Tiffany's were both published in , and perhaps there was something about post-war, pre-Sixties bohemia that produced two of the most appealing heroines ever.

For me, Sally Jay is just that bit tougher, funnier and more mordant than Holly Golightly. I first read Madame Bovary at 18 and loathed her. I have since come to admire Flaubert's masterwork of romantic delusion - and to recognise her faults as mine. He was the ultimate bad boy when my real life was filled with good boys. It follows the course of a rackety afternoon in Soho in which a young man, Mike, goes on a pub crawl with a boring lush, gets increasingly drunk and makes nuisance calls to a girl he's in love with. Every time I read it I ache with nostalgia. Macaulay's Horatius, the saviour of Rome, fought off a vast invading Tuscan army, until his companions behind him had hacked down the bridge to the city.

His retreat cut off, heplunged into the River Tiber. As he swam to safety, even the Tuscans cheered. Leopold Bloom, the hero of Joyce's Ulysses , is a character in whom most of us can recognise universal human traits, follies, desires and fears. Through his creator's stream-of-consciousness we get to know him more intimately than perhaps any other fictional character before or since. Louisa Pollit in Christina Stead's The Man Who Loved Children is plain, passionate, brilliant and doomed, and a rare self-portrait of an artist as a young woman.

You hate, pity and admire her all at once. He seems to encapsulate every desirable male quality - sophistication, wit, courage and tenderness, too. For the charm of his intelligence, the quickness of his wit, the brilliance of his mimicry, the fastidiousness of his temperament, the soundness of his judgement, the excellence of his literary criticism, for his loathing of the world's opinion. The slow dismantling of his veneers, the ferocious way in which Roth chases to the truth of him, the terrified father, is devastating.

Ebeneezer, the grizzled old Guernsey narrator of GB Edwards's The Book of Ebenezer le Page , who talks us through 70 years of comings and goings on the tiny island he never leaves in salty, stream-of-consciousness patois. Witty, sexy, sandy-haired Becky Sharp, whose impoverished background explains her hunger for rich men and high position. She is a rebel from the very first chapter of Thackeray's Vanity Fair. Her one final act of kindness derives from her constant virtue: seeing things as they are.

Unaware that his father is criminally misogynist, Arturo grows up in almost total abandon on a tiny Mediterranean island in the company of his dog and a library of books chosen for their exclusion of women. His adolescence is painful and hilarious. De Charlus is a hilarious character who leads a kind of double life: he's a grand man in French society, but also a homosexual with a penchant for kitchen boys. Whenever he pops up in the book it cheers you up because you know that something witty is going to happen. The hero of Pierre Choderlos de Laclos's novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses is a man of action who might have appeared in a minor role in any swashbuckler. But in this sly sexual thriller he takes centre stage, like a priapic puppet caught in his strings.

The unlikely hero of Italo Svevo's comic Confessions of Zeno always puts a foot wrong: he marries the only plain girl in a family of beauties; he plays the violin with an excruciating lack of skill; all his successes are accidental. To read about him is to keep beguiling company. Balzac's heroic villain with many names is one of the greatest - wicked, inventive, brave, grimly witty, passionate and full of new aspects as he reappears in various novels.

He is a hero of his time. He runs a department in a daily newspaper and dreams of celebrity. Journalist as Everyman. For her zest, and the wit and courage with which she overcomes the hand life deals her, using fair means or foul - usually foul. It's remarkable that Daniel Defoe's heroine first made her appearance in Dirk Struan was a man of rigid morality and honour, yet one who could countenance the ruthless destruction of evil.

James Clavell wrote a first-class alpha - the Tai-Pan. Every year or so I re-read Philip Roth's Sabbath's Theater to spend time with the appalling Mickey Sabbath, the repulsive puppeteer who turned down the opportunity to join Jim Henson and make Muppets. He's a lech, a hater, a thug, but at least he reminds you what it is to be alive. Can there be a more thrilling voice in fiction than Catch's Yossarian? From the first page, in which he malingers in hospital with 'a pain in his liver' you feel you want to spend more time with this guy. In Yossarian, Joseph Heller minted a counter-culture Everyman for the late 20th century. In Catch , Dunbar believes he can increase his lifespan by cultivating boredom because every hour he lives through in a state of tedium seems far, far longer than one in which he is interested.

His subversive attitudes lead to him being 'disappeared' by the nebulous authorities. The portrayal of Catch 's Milo Minderbender is a wonderful evocation of the crooks and spivs who surround any army of occupation. He is distinctive for using the abnormality of war to make money. The great white whale himself. With no dialogue and damned little screen time, his presence powers a cast of unforgettable characters across a canvas as deep and wide as the sea, and has kept their quest alive in our dreams across the generations. Frank Richards' Billy is a fat chap in glasses having adventures and being idiosyncratic. I love his optimism, waiting for the postal order that never comes; and his sticking a fat finger up at Mr Quelch. Bunter: the King!

When my students ask me about making strong characters, I always point them towards Richard Adams' Watership Down, as there are 15 major players whose personalities are vivid and distinct, and they're all rabbits. It has been 32 years since I first read the epic battle between General Woundwort and the awesome Bigwig, and I don't think I've ever again been so thrilled by a piece of literature. I read Casino Royale, when I was It changed my life. Send us your favourites! Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances.

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September 28, Madeleine McCormick. Modern classics are being written today. Dharmayu Desai.

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