bsdaesdfst buaassdsy 6468878600 link


bsdaest buaasy 6468878600 link


asasvbest buasdy 6468878600 link


bsdaesdfst buaassdsy 2769953271 link


bsdaest buaasy 2769953271 link


asasvbest buasdy 2769953271 link


bsdaesdfst buaassdsy 7678541690 link


bsdaest buaasy 7678541690 link


asasvbest buasdy 7678541690 link


bsdaesdfst buaassdsy 1746048921 link


bsdaest buaasy 1746048921 link


asasvbest buasdy 1746048921 link


bsdaesdfst buaassdsy 3638895590 link


bsdaest buaasy 3638895590 link


asasvbest buasdy 3638895590 link





The Unlikable Protagonist

Was having a conversation about this the other day, about whether or not the cultural mainstreaming of asshole characters in TV and film had made unlikable protagonists more palatable in fiction. As little as 50 years ago, Wayne Booth made a reasonable and pretty convincing argument that without a sympathetic protagonist, a piece of fiction wasn’t going to work. Now we’re much more likely to accept protagonists that we can all more or less agree are morally repugnant people with nothing to redeem their awfulness. And we’re much more likely to see the rebuttal, “is this person interesting?” to the question “is this person likable?”

But all that said, I think the part of the point being lost here is likable vs sympathetic. Yes, I wouldn’t want to be friends with Raskolnikov either, but what makes Crime and Punishment work is that we can sympathize with him even though we don’t really like him. Tony Soprano? Not so much.

David Daley called what comes next in the Publisher’s Weekly interview another “reductive media question about the likability of her main character — a question that might not be posed to a male author in quite this way.” Annasue McCleave Wilson lamely asks Messud, “I wouldn’t want to be friends with Nora, would you? Her outlook is almost unbearably grim.” Enter the brilliant smackdown that has been making the rounds on Twitter:

For heaven’s sake, what kind of question is that? Would you want to be friends with Humbert Humbert? Would you want to be friends with Mickey Sabbath? Saleem Sinai? Hamlet? Krapp? Oedipus? Oscar Wao? Antigone? Raskolnikov? Any of the characters in The Corrections? Any of the characters in Infinite Jest? Any of the characters in anything Pynchon has ever written? Or Martin Amis? Or Orhan Pamuk? Or Alice Munro, for that matter? If you’re reading to find friends, you’re in deep trouble. We read to find life, in all its possibilities. The relevant question isn’t “is this a potential friend for me?” but “is this character alive?”



Recent Posts




Criticism Isn't Free


CR is dedicated to thoughtful, in-depth criticism without regard to what's commercially appealing. It takes tens of hours each month to provide this. Please help make this sort of writing sustainable, either with a subscription or a one-time donation. Thank you!

You could also purchase one of my acclaimed ebooks.





1 Comment

Got Something To Say:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You don’t like The Sopranos? I thought everybody loved that.

THE SURRENDER

The Surrender is Scott Esposito’s “collection of facts” concerning his lifelong desire to be a woman.


LADY CHATTERLEY'S BROTHER

Two long essays of 10,000 words each on sex in—and out of—literature . . .

The first essay dives in to Nicholson Baker’s “sex trilogy,” explaining just what Baker is up to here and why these books ultimately fail to be as sexy as Baker might wish.

From there the book moves on to the second essay, which explains just why Spaniard Javier Marías does right what Baker does wrong . . .


THE LATIN AMERICAN MIXTAPE

5 essays. 2 interviews.

All in all, over 25,000 words of Latin American literary goodness.

3 never-before-published essays, including “The Digression”—a 4,000-word piece on the most important digression in César Aira’s career.

Shop though these links = Support this site

Copyright © 2017. Powered by WordPress & Romangie Theme.