During the last meeting of the esteemed Literary League (currently comprised of myself, Sam, Sarah, Charity, and Anne Elisabeth, with satellite member Danielle), we got to talking about literary characters we sighed over when we were young. Anne Elisabeth and I said we should definitely write our book heart-throbs up for our blogs, particularly since so many of them were the same characters. AE was, as always, miles ahead of me and promptly posted hers. Here is my considerably more belated version, for any out there who want to read the salacious details of my literary love life. 😛

I’m going to stick to literary crushes for this, so I’ll keep my feelings for Spock, Luke Skywalker, and Errol Flynn’s film characters out of this for the time being. 😛 I very rarely had crushes in real life as I grew up. In part, it just wasn’t my thing (I was a very practical girl and treated youthful romance with a fair bit of contempt), and in part…real guys couldn’t possibly compete with the fantastic characters I read about. As I grew up, all of my best friends were guys, and I admired qualities about each one, but I firmly saved all eyelash-fluttering for fiction. Most of my literary crushes were rather reverse-chivalric in nature–I wasn’t jealous of their literary significant others, and I was quite happy to adore chastely from afar. It’s one thing to fall in love with the character on the page, and quite another if one were forced to actually deal with a real life version of the person: if I met Aragorn on the street, I’d probably tell him to lighten up and get a haircut.

My first literary crush, if you can call it that, was Sydney Carton from A Tale of Two Cities by Dickens. I say “if you can call it that,” because I’m not sure if I was in love with Sydney Carton so much as with the book, with Dickens, and with reading in general. I was eight years old, and I had never encountered a book so enthralling. I recall sitting in my second grade class, dreaming of revolutionary Paris. I looked around at the boys in my class and sorrowfully shook my head. They just didn’t make ‘em like they used to. None of these guys were worthy to tie Sydney’s cravat.

It wasn’t the age of my peers that I found less than desirable, because around the same time I devoured the Anne of Green Gables books by L.M. Montgomery for the first time and was rather entranced by the schoolboy Gilbert Blythe. You mean some guys in this world *liked* talkative bookworms with pigtails? There was hope for me yet. I wondered if Prince Edward Island still grew Gilbert Blythes and briefly considered moving there, because even if it didn’t, it sounded like a pretty nice spot.

I read absurd numbers of books during the ten-to-twelve-year-old range. By then I was head over heels for mythology, and I was particularly in love with the varied tales of King Arthur and Robin Hood. I would have happily dropped everything to run to Camelot and sit at the round table (I hadn’t quite grasped the period’s gender roles yet) and would have equally gleefully joined Robin’s band of Merry Men in Sherwood Forest.

I definitely fancied a few characters from literature more typical of my age group, too. I remember thinking Calvin O’Keefe from A Wrinkle in Time was the bee’s knees. I discovered the Redwall books by Brian Jacques, and yeah, I realize Martin the Warrior was a mouse, but if I were a rodent I bet things would’ve worked out between us.

I read The Last of the Mohicans by Cooper, and after meeting Hawkeye, I promptly went back to the library and flew through all the rest of the Leatherstocking Tales. (I was much tougher than Cora and would have suited him infinitely better, I was sure.) It was difficult getting past his rather absurd given name (“Natty Bumppo” is the one thing for which I will never forgive Cooper), but what is love if it can’t overlook a few inherent flaws?

My deep and abiding passion, however, was for Sherlock Holmes. I read The Complete Sherlock Holmes, both volumes, in two weeks the spring that I was twelve. I was utterly enthralled. A brilliantly calculating and logical solver of mysteries, living in the London era of hansom cabs and gas lights? Sold. I knew it would never work between us—-he smoked like a chimney when he was on a case, was hopelessly untidy, and was quite set in his ways-—but I was perfectly content to sigh from afar.

When I was thirteen, I finally read The Lord of the Rings for the first time (I know, took me eons too long to get to it). Aragorn, son of Arathorn, heir of Isildur, was the coolest thing since sliced lembas. I felt considerably for Eowyn’s plight—-could any other dude in Middle Earth possible hold a candle to the returning king? To be honest, that was probably a large part of his appeal: Aragorn belonged to the mythological line, Joseph Campbell’s returning hero, the cult of Arthuriana. My feelings were exacerbated, however, after seeing the LotR movies (Viggo Mortensen might possibly be one of the most attractive men currently on the planet), so I can’t solely claim scholarly attachment.

Next in line was Horatio Hornblower. You, me, and the Hotspur, Horatio; it would’ve been fantastic. (Still determinedly ignoring historical gender limitations, obviously.) So angsty, so brilliant, so deadly to all things French! You’d think I would’ve had more of a problem with the last bit considering my heritage, but nope. I wanted nothing more than to join the Royal Navy and fight Napoleon Bonaparte with the most fabulous captain in the fleet.

If it is possible to fall in love with another’s creativity, then I did so with the author Ray Bradbury. I imagine it would be like dating a crotchety old tornado of nostalgia and imaginative furor. Really the only thing currently saving him from my advances is his being 91 years old—-the poor man has no idea how lucky he was to be born so many decades before me.

There you have it…any future husband of mine has some pretty big shoes to fill. 😛 Then again, any beau of mine would also probably have read a goodly number of these books, so he’ll have learned from the best. Call me!