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10 Timeless Literature Characters

Posted by Tatiana Ameri, on 17 January 2020. Comments: 0

The text has been adapted from the original article published in Russian on on 13 December 2019.

Information overload, emerging new trends and consumer preferences - the world is constantly changing and the pace of this change is sometimes difficult to keep up with. However, when it comes to literature there are characters who defy change and (though created a while ago) manage to withstand the test of time and remain relevant and popular with today’s readers.

Below is a somewhat improvised rating of these characters.

10. Holden Caulfield (“The Catcher in the Rye”, J.D. Salinger)

Probably the most iconic representative of “rebellious youth” ever created. Almost 70 years after the book’s first publication Holden Caulfield’s resentment and angst continue to resonate with the young and the old alike.

9. Elizabeth Bennet (“Pride and Prejudice”, Jane Austen)

Three film adaptations, several tributes (including “Bridget Jones’s Diary”), alternative versions (e.g. “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies”) and even a board-game – Elizabeth Bennet has never gone out of fashion. Young Lizzy, an extraordinary British lady of the late 18th to the early 19th century has influenced generations of young women all over the world and no doubt will carry on doing so.

8. Sherlock Holmes (“The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes”, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)

Many fictional detectives could compete for the title of the Best Detective, but Sherlock Holmes is probably the most enduring. This enigmatic loner with spectacular observation and deduction techniques and equally spectacular self-destructive habits remained a popular figure well into 21st century.

7. Alice (“Alice in Wonderland”, Lewis Carroll)

Loved by adults and children alike, the book which gets curiouser and curiouser with every page is one of the best-known and most popular works of English-language fiction. Everybody has heard of Alice (even if they have never read the book), a 7-year old with lots of imagination and her strange and often nonsensical encounters with peculiar characters in Wonderland.

6. Lolita (“Lolita”, Vladimir Nabokov)

The story of probably the most controversial romantic relationship in literature has been adapted as two films, a musical, four stage-plays, one completed opera, and two ballets. Some may say that the modern quest for eternal beauty and youth has been indirectly influenced by the character of Lolita.

5. Hamlet (“Hamlet”, William Shakespeare).

The brooding son of the assassinated king is the quintessence of indecisiveness and emotional torture. And the question “To be or not to be?” remains relevant even four centuries later.

4. Ebenezer Scrooge (“A Christmas Carol”, Charles Dickens)

The last name of the cold-blooded miser who hated Christmas has become synonymous with greed, stinginess and misanthropy even despite the fact that he commits to being more generous by the end of the tale. The book written in 1843 has seen many screen adaptations and the account of Scrooge’s redemption has become a defining tale of the Christmas holiday in the UK and the rest of the English-speaking world.

3. Romeo & Juliet (“Romeo and Juliet”, William Shakespeare)

It’s difficult to think of another fictional couple who would represent the power of love with such intensity. Romeo and Juliet have become the icons of absolute, all-consuming timeless love and the testament of its unlimited power. And centuries later we all will probably agree that “For never was a story of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo.”

2. Doctor Frankenstein (“Frankenstein”, Mary Shelley)

The themes of scientific superiority and snobbery in Mary Shelley’s novel still resonate in today’s world. Unfortunately, Doctor Frankenstein’s obsession with meddling with nature and its catastrophic outcome are the lessons that mankind doesn’t seem to be wanting to learn.

1. Big Brother (“1984”, George Orwell)

We hardly noticed but 70 years later, Orwell’s fictional character has become an integral part of our lives. Trends and technologies that put personal privacy at risk, mass surveillance... ”Big Brother is watching you” is no longer a slogan from a dystopian novel, but a fact of contemporary life.


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