August 06, 2007

Gratuitous Literary Meme - Death Edition

Ith has an interesting little meme over at Absinthe & Cookies:

List five character deaths that affected you.

Noodling over possible answers, I was struck most by the variety of ways in which character deaths have affected me. I suppose there's no way to talk about any of them without giving things away, so if you're worried about spoilers, better avert your eyes right now.

Here are my entries. No particular rank, just five that immediately jump out at me:

George Osborne in Thackeray's Vanity Fair - I was dumbstruck by the way Thackeray pulled this off. Such simplicity, yet such dramatic power. I don't say "wow" very often when reading, but this was definitely one of those occassions.

Tony Last in Waugh's A Handfull of Dust - Poor old Tony. One of Waugh's nicest, most sympathetic young men, told off to an unimaginable hell. I always feel terribly for him. (On the other hand, I have read Waugh's alternative ending in which Tony comes back, and find it to be quite flat and uninteresting. I suppose the old Greek johnny knew what he was talking about when he tagged pity and terror as the prime ingredients in any good tragedy.)

Rascal the Raccoon in Sterling North's Rascal - Okay, I know he's released into the wild, not killed. But I cried and cried as a boy every time I read it.

Barrett Bonden in Patrick O'Brian's The Hundred Days - I've never quite forgiven O'Brian for knocking off Jack Aubrey's trusty coxswain in such a gratuitous way. I think the old buzzard was sick and tired of the series and did it simply out of spite.

Milady De Winter from Dumas' The Three Musketeers- By the time Milady finally gets hers at the end of the novel, one's only regret is that one couldn't have held the axe oneself.

Posted by Robert at August 6, 2007 11:55 AM | TrackBack

The death of Dora Brandon Long in R.A.H.'s "Time Enough for Love". Invariably brings a tear to my eyes.

Posted by: Blackwing1 at August 6, 2007 12:21 PM

When Reepicheep paddles off in his coracle in Voyage of the Dawn Treader I cry.

Posted by: Taleena at August 6, 2007 02:04 PM


Gandalf falling into the pit with the Balrog also always upset me as a kid.

Now in both cases the characters are resurrected, but still.

Thorin Oakenshield. I never blamed him for being pissed at Bilbo; I always thought Bilbo was more than a little in the wrong.

Posted by: The Colossus at August 6, 2007 03:50 PM

Dolby - the 'free elf', friend of Harry Potter.
I cried when he died.

Posted by: marvin at August 6, 2007 08:43 PM