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Who is your favourite fictional anti-hero?


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Showing 1-25 of 66 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 18 Feb 2010 16:04:12 GMT
I really like the character of Flashman and was looking around for other examples, particularly in the classics. Any ideas?

Posted on 18 Feb 2010 16:44:21 GMT
VCBF (Val) says:
A can think of a couple of good anti-heroines in the classics, Becky Sharpe ("Vanity Fair") and Moll Flanders.
For anti-heroes you could try Tom Jones, D'Artagnan at the start of "The Three Musketeers" or Mr. Pooter ("Diary of a Nobody"), plus Jane Austen's books are full of dashing rogues.
I am assuming you want a bit of humour, but if not, then Trenchard ("The Mayor of Casterbridge") and Winston Smith ("1984").

Posted on 18 Feb 2010 17:37:44 GMT
ajay hogarth says:
It has to be Rabbit Angstrom in John Updike's Rabbit quartet. Because of him (his amorality and lazy childish greed) people die and suffer and he doesn't care or notice - yet at the end you love him - he's a hilarious tragedy. I suppose he's not like Flashman at all though! there's nothing dashing about Rabbit. - how about Barry Lyndon by William Makepeace Thackeray.

Posted on 18 Feb 2010 18:56:39 GMT
Last edited by the author on 18 Feb 2010 18:57:08 GMT
J.Yasimoto says:
Have a look at...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fictional_antiheroes
for some ideas.

Some that stand out for me are:
Alex (A Clockwork Orange)
Steerpike (Ghormenghast)
Yossarian (Catch-22)

I notice Rincewind from the Terry Pratchett books is listed. I would have thought Death would have been a better anti-hero!

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Feb 2010 19:13:50 GMT
Charlie Dickens' Pecksniff surely has no peers. Driven by self service, his hypocrisy, lack of the remotest perception of his own character and basic dishonesty knows no bounds. His character lives on in many of our current generation of politicians.

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Feb 2010 19:50:52 GMT
rowat says:
Dexter Morgan is my favourite - not a classic though!

Posted on 18 Feb 2010 20:02:37 GMT
Last edited by the author on 18 Feb 2010 20:04:12 GMT
JW says:
Hannibal Lecter - THE anti-hero!

Posted on 18 Feb 2010 20:07:24 GMT
Joint finish between Francie Brady (The Butcher Boy) and Alex the Droog (A Clockwork Orange).

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Feb 2010 20:09:43 GMT
VCBF (Val) says:
J Yasimoto
I think Death is quite heroic, carrying on with his job, despite any manner of difficulties, and hardly ever getting thanked for it. Rincewind could be considered a bit like Flashman, he is usually trying to avoid trouble.
but
How could I have forgotten to include little Alex?

James
Pecksniff isn't an anti-hero, just deeply unpleasant and self-centred.
I suspect many past politicians were the same, but we found out more about the current lot (both major parties).
Several of my daughter's friends didn't register to vote and I always used to go on at them ("People fought for years to get you the right to democracy, blah, blah, blah.") but I've given up.

Posted on 18 Feb 2010 20:41:16 GMT
Last edited by the author on 23 Feb 2010 14:07:06 GMT
socrates17 says:
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Posted on 18 Feb 2010 21:37:42 GMT
[Deleted by the author on 18 Feb 2010 21:39:11 GMT]

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Feb 2010 21:54:14 GMT
Oracle says:
Death is definitely an anti-hero, though not in the Flashman/Rincewind/Homer Simpson vein. He's probably in a category of his own as he doesn't really fit with the Byronic anti-heroes either!

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Feb 2010 22:47:21 GMT
VCBF (Val) says:
Byron, now there's an antihero.

Posted on 19 Feb 2010 09:27:56 GMT
Fiona Hurley says:
Humbert Humbert from Lolita. What a slimy, horrible creep (I wanted to wash my brain out after reading some of his thoughts). And yet what a fascinating character.

Posted on 19 Feb 2010 13:59:23 GMT
Great stuff! Thanks for these suggestions. The Updike books sound intriguing, I'll look into those.

Alex, D'Artagnan, Rincewind and Steerpike were good calls, I hadn't thought of them in this way. Pratchett's Death is definitely a hero rather than anti-hero though.

Posted on 19 Feb 2010 14:18:57 GMT
Last edited by the author on 19 Feb 2010 14:20:22 GMT
Isobel Ayres says:
I suppose Heathcliffe is one of the ultimate anti-heroes, but I've never been able to appreciate Wuthering Heights so I wouldn't know first hand.

I think Henry Crawford (Jane Austen, Mansfield Park) is probably my favourite anti-hero. I can never understand why Fanny preferred dull dull Edward over him (and I suspect if Jane Austen had written it earlier in her career she probably would have married Henry). I don't like Willoughby though, or Wickham. Colonel Brandon and Mr Darcy all the way!

Posted on 19 Feb 2010 14:55:51 GMT
Last edited by the author on 19 Feb 2010 15:12:04 GMT
Flashman's the man. None of that stand up and fight / stand by your woman sh*t. Leg it sharpish at the first sign of trouble. Is there any better code of conduct to live by? Other than that I 'd say Henry Chinowski in Charles Bukowski stories like Post Office and Factotum -getting p*ssed everyday, meaningless legovers, gambling, workshy, shiftless and a curmudgeon too boot. My role model.
But arent James Bond and Sherlock Holmes classic anti-heroes. Bond is a loner, a womaniser, a user, a maverick and a remorseless professional killer. Holmes is also pretty much a loner, unemotional, a coke addict and only motivated by the intellectually demanding.

Posted on 19 Feb 2010 15:24:10 GMT
Tom Ripley

Posted on 19 Feb 2010 15:42:56 GMT
Ripley, yes! I'd forgotten about him. Might have to re-read those books.

I've read Post Office and I suppose Bukowski's characters do fit into this model, though I didn't find them very appealing. Others perhaps could be Meursault, Raskolnikov, Patrick Bateman.

I also agree with Rowat, Dexter Morgan is a great anti-hero.

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Feb 2010 15:52:23 GMT
VCBF (Val) says:
What is so funny about Flashman is that he is an unheroic character placed into the sort of ultra-heroic novels boys were encouraged to read in the days of Empire (Anthony Hope, J Rider Haggard, etc.).
Henry Chinowski, Rabbit Angstrom, Homer Simpson, Pooter and to some extent John Yossarian are failing to cope with a relatively normal situation, so the humour is different.
He isn't as unpleasant as on his first appearance (in Tom Brown's schooldays); G M Fraser kept the drinking, cowardice and womanising, but cut down on the bullying to make him more sympathetic. I couldn't imagine many people laughing at Humbert Humbert, Hannibal Lector, Pinkie Brown or Alex. Augustus Mandrell is only just OK to laugh at, I would say, and only because his victims are worse than he is.
So, there are plenty of anti-heroes, but nobody else quite like Harrry Flashman.

Posted on 19 Feb 2010 15:58:11 GMT
[Deleted by the author on 19 Feb 2010 15:59:15 GMT]

In reply to an earlier post on 20 Feb 2010 23:02:19 GMT
Phil says:
How about... Kenneth Widmerpool in A Dance to the Music of Time: vol.1: Spring and subsequent volumes in the series. Also Capt. Ronald Merrick in The Jewel in the Crown (The Raj quartet).
Philip
History of Us
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Posted on 21 Feb 2010 18:23:40 GMT
Rob says:
I'd agree with Isobel in suggesting Heathcliffe - Wuthering Heights is one of my favourite books. Other than him, I'd like to recommend:

Dorian Gray (The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde)
Mitchell Courtenay (The Space Merchants - Frederik Pohl and C. M. Kornbluth)
Meursault (L'Étranger / The Outsider - Albert Camus)

And, outside of books:
Rick Blaine (Casablanca)

Posted on 21 Feb 2010 20:32:10 GMT
Book Scout says:
Satan in Paradise Lost - he steals the show.

Posted on 21 Feb 2010 21:28:26 GMT
Eileen Shaw says:
Merrick certainly, Flashman, beyond doubt, but also, what about Raskalnikov (Crime and Punishment)?
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