I love literature. I was an English Major at the University of Utah, and while in some ways that made me forget how to read for fun, it also introduced me to some very memorable characters I might never have met otherwise, both in books and out of them. My favorite characters in literature are not always good people, they’re just the most memorable, affecting, and larger-than-life people ever committed to paper.
In this series I’m going to add a couple to each article, with brief explanations for why I love each character, and which books they can be found in.
Kilgore is a mainstay in the fiction of Kurt Vonnegut. In the books he is a science fiction writer who is insanely prolific, and, some might say, just flat out insane. I first met Trout in the book Breakfast of Champions (still my favorite Vonnegut book, by the way). After reading BOC I read everything Mr. Vonnegut had published, and was delighted to find the character in several other books.
Why I love him: because he writes compulsively and sends short stories out to magazines without ever following up. Because he has a worldview that aligns conveniently with my own most of the time. Because Breakfast of Champions and Slaughterhouse Five changed me both as a writer and a reader. He makes me laugh every time I see him in a book, and more importantly, I seem compelled to return to the books he appears in.
quote from Kilgore: “The Universe is a big place. Perhaps the biggest.”
Judge Holden from Blood Meridian
In the book by Cormac McCarthy he is primarily called The Judge, although some of his men call him Holden. The Judge is my favorite, and least favorite, character in all of literature. He is about seven feet tall, hairless, seems to know every language, can discourse eloquently about ontology and anything else around the nightly campfires, and believe me, you do not want to chase him up to the top of a volcano, even if you think you’ve got him cornered.
He is also horrifically violent, which fits into the novel’s themes. Holden is usually represented by scholars of Blood Meridian as the incarnation of war itself. Once you read the book it’s hard to argue with. The scene where Ganton and the gang meet him sitting on a rock is my favorite in the book, but you’ll have to read it to see why.
“It makes no difference what men think of war, said the judge. War endures. As well ask men what they think of stone. War was always here. Before man was, war waited for him. The ultimate trade awaiting its ultimate practitioner. That is the way it was and will be….War is the ultimate game because war is at last a forcing of the unity of existence. War is god.”
“That which exists without my knowledge exists without my consent.”
I’ll leave it at that for part one. Feel free to add to the list. I’ll have more to come!