The 100 greatest literary characters

James Plath

Book - 2019

"This book identifies 100 of the most intriguing characters from some of the most well-known novels published over several centuries, from Hester Prynne and Harry Potter to Jay Gatsby and T.S. Garp. The book profiles these memorable characters and details their significance both at the time they were created and today"--

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Lanham : Rowman & Littlefield [2019]
Main Author
James Plath (author)
Other Authors
Gail D. Sinclair (author), Kirk Curnutt, 1964-
Physical Description
xiv, 267 pages ; 27 cm
Includes bibliographical references and index.
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • Captain Ahab
  • Aladdin
  • Alex
  • Alice in Wonderland
  • Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom
  • Brett Ashley
  • George F. Babbitt
  • Frodo Baggins
  • Lily Bart
  • Big Brother
  • Mary Katherine Blackwood
  • Molly Bloom
  • James Bond
  • Philbert Bono
  • Emma Bovary
  • Jean Brodie
  • Aureliano Buendía
  • Nathaniel "Natty" Bumppo
  • Cacciato
  • Holden Caulfield
  • Celie
  • Charlotte
  • Benjy Compson
  • Don Vito Corleone
  • Janie Crawford
  • Clarissa Dalloway
  • Mr. Darcy
  • Pilate Dead
  • Rebecca de Winter
  • Dracula
  • Tess Durbeyfield
  • Tyler Durden
  • Katniss Everdeen
  • Jane Eyre
  • Atticus Finch
  • Huckleberry Finn
  • Henry Fleming
  • Frankenstein's Creature
  • Dorothy Gale
  • T. S. Garp
  • Jay Gatsby
  • Holly Golightly
  • Miss Havisham
  • Eugene Henderson
  • Sherlock Holmes
  • Humbert Humbert
  • Invisible Man
  • Henry Jekyll / Edward Hyde
  • Ma Joad
  • Anna Karenina
  • Mick Kelly
  • Kurtz
  • Josephine "Jo" March
  • Philip Marlowe
  • Jane Marple
  • Oskar Matzerath
  • Merlin
  • Meursault
  • The Misfit
  • Guy Montag
  • Dean Moriarty
  • Offred
  • Katherine Scarlett O'Hara
  • Orlando
  • Papa (The Man)
  • Peter Pan
  • Piggy
  • Billy Pilgrim
  • Fleur Pillager
  • Hercule Poirot
  • Edna Pontellier
  • Alexander Portnoy
  • Harry Potter
  • Hester Prynne
  • Quasimodo
  • Don Quixote
  • Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov
  • Ignatius J. Reilly
  • Reno
  • Lisbeth Salander
  • Santiago
  • Ebenezer Scrooge
  • Sethe
  • Tristram Shandy
  • Shane
  • Antonia Shimerda
  • Long John Silver
  • Lennie Small
  • Sonny
  • Julien Sorel
  • Willie Stark
  • Daenerys Targaryen
  • Tarzan
  • Oliver Twist
  • Jean Valjean
  • Oscar Wao
  • Carrie White
  • Winnie-the-Pooh
  • John Yossarian
  • Yuri Zhivago
  • Appendix: Top Ten Character List
  • Index
  • About the Authors
Review by Choice Review

The 100 Greatest Literary Characters includes well-known characters both lovable and less agreeable (among the latter, Alex from A Clockwork Orange). To create the list, the authors polled 100 writers, professors, librarians, teachers, and book lovers. Characters are arranged alphabetically, and the entries run two to three pages and conclude with a brief works cited. Familiar characters like Alice in Wonderland, Don Quixote, and Jane Eyre are included, but more contemporary characters are well represented--e.g., Big Brother in Nineteen Eighty-Four, Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind, Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones, and Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games. All of the characters included made a lasting impression far beyond the pages of fiction, hence becoming unforgettable and immortal. An appendix lists each of the three authors' top ten characters. This volume, and the works cited in particular, will prove useful as a starting point for research. Summing Up: Recommended. Lower- and upper-division undergraduates; general readers. --Corinne Rebecca Kennedy, Mississippi State University

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Booklist Review

Greatest-list books inevitably spark discussion, and this fascinating work is no exception. Literary scholars Plath, Sinclair, and Cunatt define their hundred greatest novel- and short story-characters as time-honored favorites that have influenced culture or have become significant literary models. They consulted previous lists and then polled 100 writers, professors, librarians, teachers, and book lovers to make an inclusive list that covers classics, children's books, contemporary literature, and genre fiction. Organized alphabetically by character name, each two-page entry lists the title and author of the character's first appearance, date published, and a memorable quote. These very readable essays analyze what is important about the character and why readers are fascinated by them. They also discuss the character's portrayal in movies Sherlock Holmes, for example and the character's lasting impact on culture, such as the way Scrooge is shorthand for a miser. The editors expect debate over the contents: why was Philip Marlowe chosen over Sam Spade, Mr. Darcy instead of Elizabeth Bennett, or Winnie-the-Pooh and not Mr. Toad? Students, librarians, and readers will enjoy the lively debate this book generates.--Merle Jacob Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.