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Saturday, March 16, 2013

Chicago woman was real-life stalker from ‘The Natural’

She lived for a dream that wouldn’t die. Ruth Ann Steinhagen, dies at 83.

The Chicago woman whose near-fatal 1949 shooting of former Cubs first baseman Eddie Waitkus inspired the book and movie “The Natural” died with the same anonymity with which she lived for more than half a century.

The 19-year-old’s crime, which put a spotlight on stalking crimes, nearly killed Waitkus, 29, and temporarily sidetracked his career. The incident also helped to draw attention to “baseball Annies” — young, hero-worshipping groupies who would pursue major league ballplayers, often relentlessly.

However, from the time that Ruth Ann Steinhagen left Kankakee State Hospital in 1952 after undergoing nearly three years of psychiatric treatment, she disappeared into near obscurity — so much so that one of her final next-door neighbors said he lived there for more than 15 years before learning her history.

Steinhagen, who never spoke publicly about the Waitkus incident after her release from the hospital, spent much of her final 42 years living in a modest house on the Northwest Side with her parents and sister.

She died Dec. 29 at Swedish Covenant Hospital of a subdural hematoma caused by an accidental fall in her longtime home, a Cook County medical examiner spokeswoman said. She was 83.

Her death had gone unreported and was only discovered when the Tribune was searching death records for another story.

Repoz Posted: March 16, 2013 at 08:17 AM | 104 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cubs, history

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   1. bobm Posted: March 16, 2013 at 01:08 PM (#4389447)
The Natural
Release Date: 1984
Ebert Rating: **
By Roger Ebert / Jan 1, 1984

Why didn't they make a baseball picture? Why did THE NATURAL have to be turned into idolatry on behalf of Robert Redford? Why did a perfectly good story, filled with interesting people, have to be made into one man's ascension to the godlike, especially when no effort is made to give that ascension meaning? And were the most important people in the god-man's life kept mostly offscreen so they wouldn't upstage him?

Let's begin at the end of THE NATURAL. Redford plays Roy Hobbs, a middle-aged ballplayer making his comeback. It's the last out of the last inning of the crucial play-off game, and everything depends on him. He's been in a slump. Can his childhood sweetheart, Iris Gaines (Glenn Close), snap him out of it? She sends him a note revealing that her child is his son. The fact that he has not already figured this out is incredible. But he is inspired by the revelation. He steps to the plate. He has been having some trouble with his stomach. Some trouble, all right. A stain of blood spreads on his baseball shirt. It's a pretty badly bleeding stomach when it bleeds right through the skin. Roy swats a homer that hits the lights, and they all explode into fireworks, showering fiery stars upon him as he makes the rounds. In the epilogue, Roy plays catch with Iris and their son -- a son who has not been allowed a single onscreen word -- and a woman whose role has been to sit in the stands, wreathed in ethereal light, and inspire him.

Come on, give us a break. The last shot is cheap and phony. Either he hits the homer and then dies, or his bleeding was just a false alarm. If the bleeding was a false alarm, then everything else in the movie was false, too. But I guess that doesn't matter, because THE NATURAL gives every sign of a story that's been seriously meddled with. Redford has been placed so firmly in the foreground that the prime consideration is to show him in a noble light. The people in his life -- baseball players, mistresses, gamblers, crooks, sportswriters -- seem grateful to share the frame with him. In case we miss the point, Redford is consistently backlit to turn his golden hair into a saintly halo.

THE NATURAL could have been a decent movie. One reason that it is not: Of all its characters, the only one we don't want to know more about is Roy Hobbs. I'd love to get to know Pop Fisher (Wilford Brimley), the cynical, old team manager. Robert Duvall, as the evil sportswriter, Max Mercy, has had his part cut so badly that we only know he's evil because he practically tells us. Richard Farnsworth, as a kindly coach, has a smile that's more genuine than anything else in the movie. But you have to look quick. And what's with Glenn Close? She's the childhood sweetheart who doesn't hear from Roy after an accident changes the course of his life. Then she turns up years later, and when she stands up in the bleachers she is surrounded by blinding light: "Our Lady of Extra Innings." In the few moments she's allowed alone with Roy, she strikes us as complicated, tender, and forgiving. But even the crucial fact of her life -- that she has borne this man's son -- is used as a plot gimmick. If THE NATURAL were about human beings and not a demigod, Glenn Close and Robert Redford would have spoken together, in the same room, using real words, about their child. Not in this movie.

As for the baseball, the movie isn't even subtle. When a team is losing, it makes Little League errors. When it's winning, the hits are so accurate they even smash the bad guy's windows. There's not a second of real baseball strategy in the whole film. The message is: Baseball is purely and simply a matter of divine intervention. At about the 130-minute mark, I got the idea that God's only begotten son was playing right field for the New York team. [Emphasis added]


http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/19840101/REVIEWS/401010363/1023
   2. 3Com Park Posted: March 16, 2013 at 01:13 PM (#4389449)
Shame this is behind a pay wall.
   3. bobm Posted: March 16, 2013 at 01:21 PM (#4389452)
Sports Illustrated

"The Natural: hit or myth? Whether you like this fantasy may depend on how well you know baseball"

By Frank Deford
Issue date: May 21, 1984

The first half hour of The Natural is simply beautiful, not only in the richness of the film and the texture of the story, but also in all that it evokes of the pastoral Americana diamondiana of our fathers. One scene in particular, in which the title character, played by Robert Redford, engages in an impromptu baseball duel with a Ruthian rival, may be as fine an interlude as we've ever witnessed in any film about sport. The characters, whether broad or finely drawn, are all well within themselves, and the tale is spun out in the most engaging way. We are captivated.

And then, out of the blue, when Redford slugs one, the horsehide breaks open and the innards unravel. Get it? He literally knocks the cover off the ball. Pause, please, for stage guffaws. Not long afterward, one of Redford's teammates is killed going into the wall after a fly ball, and this, too, is treated as a belly laugh. The extraordinary surface tension, so lovingly created by director Barry Levinson, is shattered, and I felt used -- cheated to the degree that I never really trusted the movie again.

As Ron Fimrite pointed out in his recent story on Redford and the film, Bernard Malamud's novel, whence cometh the movie, is "confounding in its switches from mythology to realism, from sports-page jargon to lyricism." What may work in print for a master novelist, however, won't necessarily succeed in a visual medium. The Natural's transmutations are too jarring, and, in the end, they turn the film's realism against it.

That's the constitutional failing of The Natural, and while all else may seem like nitpicking, the movie is otherwise blemished by an interminable last act that deteriorates into melodrama, as first one villain and then another struts across the screen. Redford, the only benign male character of any substance in the story, is beset by a surfeit of catalogue nasties, including an evil owner, a fixer, a blonde siren and a conniving sportswriter (a hackneyed part on which the Academy Award-winning talents of Robert Duvall are wasted). The team Redford stars for is the New York Knights; because of the film's grand excesses, the way The Natural was put together reminds me more of how the New York Yankees were assembled -- in the manner of more is less.

What separates The Natural from the Steinbrenners, however, is spirit and effort. The devotion that colors the project is everywhere in evidence, starting with an attention to detail that all but reincarnates the National Pastime of the '30s. The use of period newspaper headlines to move a story along is a hoary device, but it was never more artfully applied. The clothes, the language (when was the last time you heard someone say "swell"?), the trains, the poses and, above all, the lighting are exquisite. Special credit must also be given to Satan, for surely none but Beelzebub himself could preserve the 46-year-old Redford in a way that must make even Joan Collins green with envy. And, as we saw in The Sting, Redford can wear a fedora better than any other man alive.

He invests the mysterious Roy Hobbs with a proper enough mixture of humor and distance as he wends his way through a maze of allegories. Surely, it must not be easy being, in succession, Rapid Robert Feller, Sir Lancelot, Eddie Waitkus, Captain Marvel, Shoeless Joe Jackson, Casey of Mudville and General Hospital. Unfortunately, Redford exhibits a certain self-consciousness in part and never deigns to really play Hobbs -- reflecting, perhaps, his own superstar complex.

Glenn Close, as The First Love, is a most beguiling presence. When she rises in the crowd at Wrigley Field, an Ophelia in white, shimmering like the lady who holds up the flame at Columbia Pictures, I was perfectly at ease with that kind of mythology.

So perhaps one man's myth is another man's prison. For many, it might be quite possible to enjoy this film on both its levels, but my own devotion to baseball prohibits me from accepting what the non-fan can swallow with ease. As a romanticist, I can believe that love conquers all, the check's in the mail and girls just wanna have fun -- beam me up, Scotty -- but, damn it, baseballs can only be hit so far and ballplayers can only hit them just so often. Trick around with that and nothing else of mere human emotions and values can be accepted, either. Possibly this is one baseball film that will be appreciated more by people who don't know baseball than by those who do. We shall see. Still, though it overreaches and postures, The Natural almost manages to be a swell movie. [Emphasis added]


http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/features/2001/movies/reviews/the_natural/

   4. Mess with the Meat, you get the Wad! Posted: March 16, 2013 at 01:22 PM (#4389453)
its free to sign up
   5. bobm Posted: March 16, 2013 at 01:24 PM (#4389454)
[2] I think this link duplicates the story: http://timesleader.com/news/news/351875/Ruth-Ann-Steinhagen-real-life-Natural-femme-fatale-dies-at-83

Also this link, with picture of Steinhagen: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-03-14/news/ct-spt-0315-steinhagen-eddie-waitkus-20130315_1_chicago-woman-ruth-ann-steinhagen-eddie-waitkus
   6. Howie Menckel Posted: March 16, 2013 at 02:21 PM (#4389488)

She was good at stalking at first, but then she went too far.

   7. RMc's desperate, often sordid world Posted: March 16, 2013 at 02:24 PM (#4389491)
Memo to bobm, Roger and Frank: IT'S A FREAKIN' MOVIE, NOT A DOCUMENTARY!
   8. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: March 16, 2013 at 02:32 PM (#4389497)
By far the best thing about the movie "The Natural" is Wilford Brimley's early dugout rant about how he "shoulda been a farmer."
I could watch that every day for a LONG time before I ever got tired of it.
   9. BDC Posted: March 16, 2013 at 02:55 PM (#4389510)
One of my favorite baseball quotes: when asked why she shot Waitkus instead of any of the other current or former Cubs, Steinhagen said "He's the only one worth shooting."
   10. base ball chick Posted: March 16, 2013 at 03:22 PM (#4389518)
interesting that she didn't spend a day in prison and wasn't even charged with any crime. attempted murder? the victim can't ask the DA not to prosecute because it is a crime against the state.

this is sexism plain and simple. females aren't really responsible for what they do (unless they do it for money)

you betcherass that if this was a female athlete, say, dottie hinson, shot by a male fan, that he woulda been in the slammer before you could say, oh poor boy.
   11. jyjjy Posted: March 16, 2013 at 03:34 PM (#4389524)
She did spend 3 years in a mental hospital which if I had to guess was entirely appropriate in a legal sense.*



*Given all your wacky girly bits always pumpin y'all full of crazy juice natch.
   12. Swoboda is freedom Posted: March 16, 2013 at 03:36 PM (#4389528)
My favorite part of the movie is that Wilford Brimley, who played the manager, is 2 years older than Redford.
   13. Der-K: Hipster doofus Posted: March 16, 2013 at 03:52 PM (#4389536)
Rmc / 7 - we haven't even had the book v movie discussion yet!
   14. The Yankee Clapper Posted: March 16, 2013 at 04:12 PM (#4389547)
Memo to bobm, Roger and Frank: IT'S A FREAKIN' MOVIE, NOT A DOCUMENTARY!

Suspension of disbelief seems selective for some.
   15. Dale Sams Posted: March 16, 2013 at 04:14 PM (#4389548)
then everything else in the movie was false, too.


Wait....46 year old people don't bat .490 and slug .800?

My favorite part of the movie


Best. Mitchell Appearance. Ever.
   16. jyjjy Posted: March 16, 2013 at 04:54 PM (#4389563)
Wait....46 year old people don't bat .490 and slug .800?

Everyone refused to sign Bonds so we don't know.
   17. bobm Posted: March 16, 2013 at 06:24 PM (#4389586)
Memo to bobm, Roger and Frank: IT'S A FREAKIN' MOVIE, NOT A DOCUMENTARY!

Suspension of disbelief seems selective for some.


I can't suspend my disbelief at how many people like that movie and Redford in it.

You guys probably also liked the book Catcher in the Rye :-)
   18. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 16, 2013 at 06:43 PM (#4389590)
It was a boring movie, but the shot of Redford hitting the home run was good.

In my view, the movie would work better as a short film of about 5 minutes, with a minute explaining the backdrop and then a few minutes on the home run scene. Done and done.
   19. Dan Posted: March 16, 2013 at 06:49 PM (#4389591)
The Archer episode from a few weeks ago with all of the allusions to The Natural was much better than the movie itself.
   20. Gonfalon B. Posted: March 16, 2013 at 06:57 PM (#4389593)
Wait....46 year old people don't bat .490 and slug .800?

Everyone refused to sign Bonds so we don't know.


Robert Duvall's "Max Mercy" character doesn't take enough personal pleasure in being vindictive to deserve a Hall of Fame ballot.
   21. Arbitol Dijaler Posted: March 16, 2013 at 06:57 PM (#4389594)
She did spend 3 years in a mental hospital which if I had to guess was entirely appropriate in a legal sense.*


My Crim Law professor was adamant that those places are prisons with a different sign on the front and white uniforms instead of brown.
   22. Publius Publicola Posted: March 16, 2013 at 07:07 PM (#4389600)
My favorite part of the movie is that Wilford Brimley, who played the manager, is 2 years older than Redford.


Brimley's one of those guys who looked 50 when he was 25. Poor bastard.
   23. Publius Publicola Posted: March 16, 2013 at 07:09 PM (#4389602)
The movie would have been better if they showed the scene of Redford knocking up Close.
   24. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 16, 2013 at 07:12 PM (#4389605)
The movie would have been better if they showed the scene of Redford knocking up Close.


I don't think anyone wanted to see that. We didn't want to see it in The Natural and we didn't want to see it when it happened in Fatal Attraction.

It's Glenn Close.
   25. Gonfalon B. Posted: March 16, 2013 at 07:19 PM (#4389607)
Puh-leeze. Everybody knows that kid's real father is the Whammer.
   26. Spahn Insane Posted: March 16, 2013 at 08:06 PM (#4389620)
Hey, she died in my neighborhood hospital. Cool, kind of.
   27. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 16, 2013 at 08:11 PM (#4389625)
I can't suspend my disbelief at how many people like that movie and Redford in it.

You guys probably also liked the book Catcher in the Rye :-)


It was a solid movie. Catcher in the Rye sucked.
   28. OsunaSakata Posted: March 16, 2013 at 09:30 PM (#4389648)
I've never seen The Natural because I thought it was too romantic for me. I don't like Field of Dreams that much, but at least you knew it was a fantasy. I seem to remember either Ebert or other reviewers of the time saying similar things that kept me away. I did watch the interview Costas had with Barry Levinson, which was interesting enough, more interesting than the interview with Tatum O'Neal at any rate. I did learn for the first time with the pre-publicity for The Natural that they recreated 1930s practices such as leaving your glove on the field.
   29. Morty Causa Posted: March 16, 2013 at 09:34 PM (#4389650)
The Natural was a solid movie (the novel is overrated), but Catcher in the Rye is a great literary achievement.
   30. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 16, 2013 at 09:41 PM (#4389652)
but Catcher in the Rye is a great literary achievement.

I wanted the main character to die a hideous death starting on about page 10.
   31. Morty Causa Posted: March 16, 2013 at 10:02 PM (#4389663)
Why?

And what does that have to do with literary achievement?
   32. PreservedFish Posted: March 16, 2013 at 10:21 PM (#4389670)
I wanted the main character to die a hideous death starting on about page 10.

Me too. I remember voicing this in my 9th grade class, and my opinion was not shared by my classmates. My guess is that if I read it again today, I would still think that Caulfield was an annoying "phony" brat, but maybe I'd see him as more of an antihero and I'd enjoy the book more. At the time, I didn't enjoy it at all.

And what does that have to do with literary achievement?

Are there are great books, great movies, great stories where the common reaction is to hate the main character? Honest question.
   33. Morty Causa Posted: March 16, 2013 at 10:35 PM (#4389675)
Hate the main character? You just admitted you were a definite minority. A literary legacy doesn't rest on a few aberrant reactions.

And I believe the history of the reaction to the book testifies Holden Caulfield is not generally hated. Au contraire.

True, though, some works generally recognized as great were, and are, held in low esteem, even in some cases despised. Their main characters, too. Hamlet for instance, character and play, has been criticized by, oh, Samuel Johnson, Byron, T. S. Eliot.

Henry James--Mark Twain said he'd rather be condemned to John Bunyan's Heaven than read Henry James. And he had this to say of Jane Austen:

“I often want to criticize Jane Austen, but her books madden me so that I can’t conceal my frenzy from the reader; and therefore I have to stop every time I begin. Every time I read Pride and Prejudice I want to dig her up and beat her over the skull with her own shin bone!”

And of course there's Fennimore Cooper's Literary Offenses.

People have said the same thing in my lifetime about Hemingway, Faulkner, Steinbeck, and many others.

But, all that still doesn't answer the question. Why do you hate it and what does that have to do with literary achievement?
   34. PreservedFish Posted: March 16, 2013 at 10:47 PM (#4389681)
Hate the main character? You just admitted you were a definite minority. A literary legacy doesn't rest on a few aberrant reactions...

But, all that still doesn't answer the question. Why do you hate it and what does that have to do with literary achievement?


I didn't say anything about its literary legacy. Neither did snapper, for that matter. Why did I hate it? I can only report that my 14 year old self disliked it, and that he hated Holden Caulfield.

But I am curious if there are any genuine classics that feature main characters that are widely hated. And of course I don't mean charismatic antiheros like, I dunno, Milton's Satan.
   35. Manny Coon Posted: March 16, 2013 at 11:12 PM (#4389690)
Is it possible that Catcher's appeal is more generational? I read it for the first time somewhat recently and was really underwhelmed, but at the same time could see how the main character might be more interesting or provocative 50-60 years ago, but compared to a lot of modern teen angst anti-hero types he seems really tame.
   36. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: March 16, 2013 at 11:24 PM (#4389692)
Memo to bobm, Roger and Frank: IT'S A FREAKIN' MOVIE, NOT A DOCUMENTARY!
This is entirely unresponsive to Ebert's critique. He's saying that he wanted emotional realism, characters making recognizable human decisions. He's saying he wanted not realistic plotting, but plotting that plays by consistent rules - if Hobbs had a terrible stomach ailment and risked his life to come up to bat, there should be real risk there, not a "wait everything's ok" cop out where he lives happily ever after. That's just throwing away a central conflict with no justification or explanation, in the service of a cheap bit of sap. He's not saying he wants to watch an actual baseball game in his movie, decided by a third inning two-run homer. He's saying he wants the movie to respect his intelligence enough to understand that the club is streaking or slumping based on shots of recognizable baseball plays, not cartoons.

"It's a freakin' movie" can be used to defend The Day the Clown Cried. It can defend anything, and as such it's not really a useful argument.
   37. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: March 16, 2013 at 11:29 PM (#4389693)
"It's a freakin' movie" can be used to defend The Day the Clown Cried.


I don't see how; has anyone ever seen it?
   38. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: March 16, 2013 at 11:41 PM (#4389694)
"It's a freakin' movie" can be used to defend The Day the Clown Cried.



I don't see how; has anyone ever seen it?

only Jerry Lewis and his lawyers
   39. Morty Causa Posted: March 16, 2013 at 11:44 PM (#4389695)
I didn't say anything about its literary legacy. Neither did snapper, for that matter. Why did I hate it? I can only report that my 14 year old self disliked it, and that he hated Holden Caulfield.


That's why I asked you. It's called furthering a conversation.

But if you're going to reflexively go into defense mode, forget it.


   40. Morty Causa Posted: March 16, 2013 at 11:45 PM (#4389696)
But I am curious if there are any genuine classics that feature main characters that are widely hated. And of course I don't mean charismatic antiheros like, I dunno, Milton's Satan.

Widely hated by you and snapper? You will have to answer that. If it is to apply broadly, then it’s self-defeating, for the most part. I would say that there few classics where all the characters are widely hated, and that applies to Catcher in the Rye. You and snapper aren’t “widely”.

Some rather repellent main characters that most readers nevertheless feel for, though:

Humbert Humbert.

Raskolnikov.

Captain Ahab (and Claggart in Billy Budd).

Meursault in The Stranger.

Clegg in The Collector.

Tons of characters in Cormac McCarthy.

The Bible (the main character, God, is a pretty unsavory character).

Richard III.

Dorian Gray.

Stanley Kowalski.

Nicola Six in London Fields (everyone in London Fields)
   41. frannyzoo Posted: March 16, 2013 at 11:58 PM (#4389697)
Morty gets to many of them. I'll add a few:

Jay Gatsby (everybody in the Great Gatsby?)

Richard II

Hamlet (in that will you EVER make a decision for Christ's Sake, Jesus ****! sort of way)

Clyde Griffiths in Dreiser's American Tragedy

I'd also argue that Zuckerman in pretty horrible in every Roth novel, but that's being even more subjective than I'm already being above

   42. bobm Posted: March 17, 2013 at 12:05 AM (#4389698)
My guess is that if I read it again today, I would still think that Caulfield was an annoying "phony" brat, but maybe I'd see him as more of an antihero and I'd enjoy the book more. At the time, I didn't enjoy it at all.


Is it possible that Catcher's appeal is more generational? I read it for the first time somewhat recently and was really underwhelmed, but at the same time could see how the main character might be more interesting or provocative 50-60 years ago, but compared to a lot of modern teen angst anti-hero types he seems really tame.


Caulfield seemed to me to be the same kind of insubstantial insincere "phony" (ironically the character's own favorite putdown) that he spends the entire book railing against. I remember him as an uninsightful insincere hypocrite who is the unreliable narrator (like Humbert Humbert or a Henry James character or maybe even Huck Finn) of Salinger's satire of teen angst - a practical joke on teachers and the generations of juveniles they compelled to read it in school.
   43. PreservedFish Posted: March 17, 2013 at 12:09 AM (#4389700)
Some rather repellent main characters that most readers nevertheless feel for


Raskolnikov came to my mind right after I posted that...



That's why I asked you. It's called furthering a conversation.

But if you're going to reflexively go into defense mode, forget it.


Sorry, didn't mean for it to come off that way. I thought that you were pouncing on a statement I never made. For better or worse I don't feel qualified to talk about Catcher in the Rye's legacy because it's been so long since I read it.

I would say that there few classics where all the characters are widely hated, and that applies to Catcher in the Rye. You and snapper aren’t “widely”.


I wasn't trying to pretend that my interpretation was important or definitive. I too was just furthering a conversation.
   44. Morty Causa Posted: March 17, 2013 at 12:17 AM (#4389704)
42:

Holden Caulfield is a 16-year old boy, for Christ's sake, who is having an emotional breakdown. He's just lost a little brother whom he loved very much, his older brother that he idolized has sold out to Hollywood, and he fears that his little sister will be hurt. He worries about his mother and father, and other characters. He is repelled by the way people hurt each other, misunderstand each other, and he recognizes that he is not totally free of those faults. He's left childhood and is entering adulthood and it scares the #### out of him. Exactly what is it about him that makes some so angry and judgmental. (In a way, it is a testament to Salinger's artistic skill that he is able to elicit such a response, one all out of proportion.) Is that how you would view and treat a real adolescent in your life?
   45. bobm Posted: March 17, 2013 at 12:39 AM (#4389711)
[44] if a tree falls in the woods and no one hears it, does it make a sound? Salinger the self-exile writes a portrait of grief and exile (once to boarding school and then self-exile) and maybe through an accident of timing it gets lionized and misunderstood as some kind of a coming-of-age novel.

A real adolescent in crisis and suffering a loss needs support (which Caulfield never gets) but cannot be allowed to hide forever behind defenses rather than mourn the loss.
   46. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: March 17, 2013 at 01:09 AM (#4389719)
Hamlet (in that will you EVER make a decision for Christ's Sake, Jesus ****! sort of way)

When the Branagh Hamlet came out, I went to see it with my then-GF, who was very smart and very cranky... she'd never read Hamlet and didn't really know the story. On the way out of the theater, she asked me, in all sincerity, "Why doesn't he just kill him?" I always enjoyed her ability to get to the damn point.
   47. bobm Posted: March 17, 2013 at 01:14 AM (#4389721)
she'd never read Hamlet and didn't really know the story. On the way out of the theater, she asked me, in all sincerity, "Why doesn't he just kill him?"

If Hamlet were to have killed Claudius in Act III, what would Shakespeare have filled Acts IV and V with? :-)
   48. Dale Sams Posted: March 17, 2013 at 01:21 AM (#4389723)
Well, several reasons. Hamlet isn't sure that he (Hamlet) is not seeing things. Claudius is the elected King. They don't want to appear weak to Fortinbras...etc..etc..doesn't want to kill him in a chapel...kills the wrong guy..etc..etc..

Claudius- "What we would do, we should do, when we would. For this 'would' changes and hath as many abatements and delays as there are hands, are fingers, are eyes. Then this would becomes like a spendthrifts sigh, that hurts upon easing."

what would Shakespeare have filled Acts IV and V with? :-)


The very short reign of Laertes.
   49. jyjjy Posted: March 17, 2013 at 04:00 AM (#4389742)
It's a Shakespearean tragedy guys. Any suggested plot change that doesn't involve nearly everyone dying by the end needs to be thrown out as the feel good happy time bullsh*t that it is.
   50. greenback likes millwall Posted: March 17, 2013 at 05:42 AM (#4389746)
I'd modify the comment to "it's a freakin' sports movie." For better and for worse -- and Ebert points out the worse -- the conventional plot in sports movies revolves around winning the championship. The Natural follows the formula, including the typical enhancements about why it's more important than a typical championship (Pops will lose the team, for example) and how the championship is more difficult than normal (Hobbs is bleeding from a gunshot wound). These are characters in a genre film; demands that they be realistic human beings kinda misses the point.
   51. Dan Posted: March 17, 2013 at 05:49 AM (#4389747)
I read Catcher in the Rye in 10th grade, and remember hating Caulfield and hating the book in its entirety like PF and snapper. Like PF says, I might see HC as an antihero or as a sympathetic figure if I were to reread the book as an adult, but as a fellow adolescent I just wanted Caulfield to shut up and disappear.
   52. Zach Posted: March 17, 2013 at 06:20 AM (#4389748)
Ebert is usually a good reviewer, but sometimes he misses the point completely. Redford's stomach isn't bleeding because he got shot there once. It's bleeding because as a young man he abandoned his ideals. The possibility that he might abandon his ideals again has literally reopened an old wound.

That's why the pivotal moment is Glen Close, the woman in white, standing up. The woman who shot Redford was dressed all in black. Bump's wife was, too, and the last thing Redford says to her is that he's met her before. He chooses the woman in white, and he redeems his old sin by hitting the home run into the lights.

Focusing on the physical consequences of the wound is painfully literal and ignores the Arthurian elements of the story (the team, after all, is named the New York Knights). The Arthurian legends are full of sins that are never forgiven and wound that never heal.

The Arthurian symbolism is almost pedantic in the book, which makes the interesting (and to my eye, weaker) choice of having Roy Hobbs choose to throw the game. That fits the Arthurian theme of having poor choices poison someone's life, but makes the ending dangerously close to a shaggy dog tale. (It ends with a tear-stricken young boy demanding "Say it ain't so, Roy! Say it ain't so!")
   53. Lassus Posted: March 17, 2013 at 08:37 AM (#4389755)
Worst. Thread. Ever.

Also, I'd rag on those who let their hate for Holden ruin their appreciation for the writing, but I feel that way about nearly every F. Scott Fitzgerald character, so there's that.
   54. The Fallen Reputation of Billy Jo Robidoux Posted: March 17, 2013 at 09:08 AM (#4389761)
only Jerry Lewis and his lawyers


and Harry Shearer, for some reason.
   55. Der-K: Hipster doofus Posted: March 17, 2013 at 09:37 AM (#4389765)
Lots of people hate Holden/Catcher - I am not one of them (though I prefer Nine Stories).

Greenback - is your stance 'eh, it's a sports movie, what did you expect?' If so, you nailed why I mostly avoid them. (As opposed to, genre films have certain demands.)
   56. Morty Causa Posted: March 17, 2013 at 09:59 AM (#4389772)
Well, that lots of people hate Holden/Catcher isn't really the point. Lots of people detest lots of things as an unthinking reaction that says more about them than the literary work. Indeed, that they do react as they do, without wanting to examine why they do, may be telling.

Or, rather, that's not where it should end. The point is why do they hate it, and does that hate reflect on artistic creation. People seem content with venting--cryptic venting, and that isn't literary criticism. They've blurted out a visceral reaction, formed in most instances years ago, and they think that's all there is to it. It may be where therapy begins, but it's not where critical appraisal ends. It's telling that no one wants to go into why they react as they do--or recall reacting as they do. It's telling that they won't or can't consider the book as a literary creation separate and divorced from their personal psychology.

And Nine Stories is a great short story collection. It's the Highway 61 Revisited of short story collection. Each story/track is excellent, but each is excellent in a different way. As are, for that matter, all of Salinger's subsequent works that have thus far been published.
   57. billyshears Posted: March 17, 2013 at 10:17 AM (#4389779)
I read Catcher in the Rye when I was 21. I thought it was fine.
   58. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: March 17, 2013 at 10:32 AM (#4389785)
Shame this is behind a pay wall.

The Washington Post had a long obit this morning that can be accessed directly without any registration or paywall, complete with a picture of Steinhagen playing first base while in prison. I submitted it just a minute ago before seeing this thread.

This quote alone makes the article worth reading:

“Here’s a 19-year-old girl, living by herself in a tiny apartment on Lincoln Avenue, in 1949,” Theodore said via e-mail. “She builds an Eddie Waitkus shrine in her apartment: photos, newspaper clippings, 50 ticket stubs, scorecards. She knows he’s from Boston so she develops a craving for baked beans. .?.?. He’s Lithuanian, so she teaches herself the language and listens to Lithuanian radio programs.”


Such dedication should not go unrequited. That shrine should be in the Hall of Fame.
   59. Morty Causa Posted: March 17, 2013 at 10:44 AM (#4389789)
That wasn't just a flesh wound Eddie Waitkus suffered. He deserves recognition for simply being able to come back after something like that. I've never read the biography written of him. Has anyone here?

As for the crazy ####, did she later read The Catcher in the Rye and say to herself, oh, yeah, that speaks to me?
   60. Publius Publicola Posted: March 17, 2013 at 10:47 AM (#4389791)
But, all that still doesn't answer the question. Why do you hate it and what does that have to do with literary achievement?


It spawned Bret Easton Ellis.

Nuff said.
   61. jyjjy Posted: March 17, 2013 at 10:55 AM (#4389795)
Isn't an extreme reaction from the audience generally considered the goal of most art with the greatest and most interesting works usually having a good mix of both love and hate thrown its way?
   62. bobm Posted: March 17, 2013 at 11:00 AM (#4389801)
But, all that still doesn't answer the question. Why do you hate it and what does that have to do with literary achievement?

It spawned Bret Easton Ellis.


And Sylvia Plath and Hunter Thompson and Jay McInerney and Dave Eggers. Like baseball seasons, people remember most fondly the books about unhappy young people they read when they are eleven.
   63. Publius Publicola Posted: March 17, 2013 at 11:02 AM (#4389804)
Really though, I read CITR as a sophomore in high school and I had no idea how self-consciously neurotic I was supposed to be until I read that piece of ####.

And it had #### in it that I hated. It portrayed nuns as saintly, ephemeral creatures rather than the neurotic celibates they really were (that I knew from experience even at the age of 15). It talked about the Lunts (who the were the Lunts? Even my parents only had a passing familiarity with the ####### Lunts). Holden the protagonist was a spoiled future frat boy (I remember asking myself is "What teenager has enough money to check into a NY hotel by himself or rent a whore? He comes off like a Duke basketball fan.). Salinger made fun of a kid with acne. Great fun in that. Holden resenting his roommate getting a piece of ass. JD comes off as a frigid prude there.

Thanks, JD. Thanks for helping to ruin my adolescence.
   64. PreservedFish Posted: March 17, 2013 at 11:17 AM (#4389814)
Uh, Morty, are you sure that you are just trying to foster a conversation? Seems more like you are gleefully lobbing accusations of vanity and philistinism at people that don't like a book that you like. Or, actually, at people that didn't like that book when they were adolescents. It's hilarious to contrast your "give Holden a break, he's 16!" post with the idea that merely registering my 14-year old self's dislike of the book is some sort of tremendous intellectual failing. You're right, I haven't offered any "literary criticism" here. I never intended to, I'm not able to, I read the book when I was ####### 14. Battering me for that fact seems like an odd way of trying to further the conversation.
   65. BDC Posted: March 17, 2013 at 11:28 AM (#4389823)
That wasn't just a flesh wound Eddie Waitkus suffered. He deserves recognition for simply being able to come back after something like that. I've never read the biography written of him. Has anyone here?

Yes, Baseball's Natural by John Theodore, a very interesting biography. Among other things, Waitkus had seen some grisly combat in WW2, and was afflicted with PTSD that Steinhagen compounded. He was an alcoholic, and compensated during his playing days by taking all kinds of stimulants: an object lesson in the abuse of greenies. He had to have been a pretty good ballplayer before all his troubles started, to be as good as he was in the event.
   66. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 17, 2013 at 11:30 AM (#4389826)
Caulfield seemed to me to be the same kind of insubstantial insincere "phony" (ironically the character's own favorite putdown) that he spends the entire book railing against. I remember him as an uninsightful insincere hypocrite who is the unreliable narrator

This about sums it up for me.


Jay Gatsby (everybody in the Great Gatsby?)


Read this around the same age (maybe a year or two later) and I didn't hate Gatsby at all.

Yeah, he's a sleazy phony, but he doesn't have any pretensions of holding the moral high ground like Caufield.
   67. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 17, 2013 at 11:32 AM (#4389827)
And it had #### in it that I hated. It portrayed nuns as saintly, ephemeral creatures rather than the neurotic celibates they really were (that I knew from experience even at the age of 15).

I love how you respond to Salinger's wildly inaccurate stereotype with one of your own. Methinks the truth must lie somewhere in between, or as a mix of both.

Edit: and I don't much like nuns. With very few exceptions, they have gone to left-wing dipsy-doodle land in the last 40 years.
   68. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: March 17, 2013 at 11:35 AM (#4389830)
Really though, I read CITR as a sophomore in high school and I had no idea how self-consciously neurotic I was supposed to be until I read that piece of ####.

I never read Catcher in the Rye until I was in my late 30's, by which time it just seemed to be a rather dated piece of light fiction, although mildly enjoyable. I guess not being able to appreciate Salinger is one of the problems of not having suffered through an overly neurotic adolescence.
   69. BDC Posted: March 17, 2013 at 11:51 AM (#4389846)
I'd see Holden Caulfield as an insightful phony. He realizes that society is 99% bullshit, and then starts bullshitting, every chance he gets. To me that just makes Salinger himself all the more insightful (which of us is immune to the mote/beam problem?) But Holden can make readers very uncomfortable, and I can certainly see why that translates into disliking the book.

Disclosure: I loved the book at age 11 and I loved it the last time I read it at age 52. I really did.
   70. Darren Posted: March 17, 2013 at 12:08 PM (#4389860)
I really like most of Ebert's reviews. Here, though, I don't follow him on a couple of levels.

Why did a perfectly good story, filled with interesting people, have to be made into one man's ascension to the godlike, especially when no effort is made to give that ascension meaning? And were the most important people in the god-man's life kept mostly offscreen so they wouldn't upstage him?


It's a 2-hour movie. You can really only tell so much of a story in 2 hours, and the story here is about Hobbs. Any time you give to his son or his lover (or Pop or anyone else) you take away from getting to know Hobbs and what makes him tick. Every movie under six hours has to take some shortcuts like this.

Come on, give us a break. The last shot is cheap and phony. Either he hits the homer and then dies, or his bleeding was just a false alarm. If the bleeding was a false alarm, then everything else in the movie was false, too.


I really don't follow him on this. Why is that the only way the movie can go. Why can't this story be about Hobbs's triumph over tragedy? It may not be THE ending that Ebert wants to see but it's an ending and if the story is about redemption or triumph over adversity it works. Why must the bleeding be a false alarm or deadly? Isn't life filled with events that fall between these two extremes?

I'd love to get to know Pop Fisher (Wilford Brimley), the cynical, old team manager. Robert Duvall, as the evil sportswriter, Max Mercy, has had his part cut so badly that we only know he's evil because he practically tells us. Richard Farnsworth, as a kindly coach, has a smile that's more genuine than anything else in the movie. But you have to look quick.


And when they make The Natural: The Miniseries, you will get to know all about these people. Spoiler Alert: Pop likes oatmeal.
   71. bobm Posted: March 17, 2013 at 12:14 PM (#4389866)
I'd see Holden Caulfield as an insightful phony.

Unrealistically insightful into others, for a 16-year old, and yet he has no insight into himself.
   72. Darren Posted: March 17, 2013 at 12:18 PM (#4389870)

Unrealistically insightful into others, for a 16-year old, and yet he has no insight into himself.


Making him a pretty typical 16-year-old.
   73. bobm Posted: March 17, 2013 at 12:19 PM (#4389871)
[70] You can really only tell so much of a story in 2 hours, and the story here is about Hobbs. Any time you give to his son or his lover (or Pop or anyone else) you take away from getting to know Hobbs and what makes him tick.

That is the problem. As Ebert stated:
THE NATURAL could have been a decent movie. One reason that it is not: Of all its characters, the only one we don't want to know more about is Roy Hobbs.
   74. BDC Posted: March 17, 2013 at 12:21 PM (#4389875)
Unrealistically insightful into others, for a 16-year old, and yet he has no insight into himself

That's a strong criticism of a lot of YA fiction, I agree: The Outsiders (still a pretty good novel) tends in that direction, and lots of subsequent books just have impossibly precocious narrators. Holden, though, is full of snap judgments, patronizing attitudes, prejudices; there are people he can't figure out (like Mr Antolini). He doesn't strike me as some empathically-gifted kid, just someone who's a bit hyperactive socially and emotionally.

As to having insights into others but not one's self, again, that's the human condition (my one insight from my last 54 years :)
   75. Darren Posted: March 17, 2013 at 12:29 PM (#4389878)
THE NATURAL could have been a decent movie. One reason that it is not: Of all its characters, the only one we don't want to know more about is Roy Hobbs.


Fair enough, I guess, but this is really just who Ebert wants to know about. Hobbs was a supremely talented person who fell into obscurity and made it all the way back to the top. I find that a really interesting story. And let's face it, if we got to know Pop better, we'd probably decide he was a superstitious idiot.
   76. Greg K Posted: March 17, 2013 at 12:33 PM (#4389880)
But I am curious if there are any genuine classics that feature main characters that are widely hated. And of course I don't mean charismatic antiheros like, I dunno, Milton's Satan.

Dean Moriarty in On the Road is not the easiest guy in the world to like. Although he does seem to have charisma out the wazoo.

Also I suppose whether On the Road is a genuine classic or not is another discussion.
   77. Morty Causa Posted: March 17, 2013 at 12:37 PM (#4389881)
Essay in The New Yorker on Catcher and Salinger

About where Salinger was coming from and how he changed the literary aesthetic. It's a been a good while since I've read those biographies (unauthorized and incomplete), but this says something about JD:

Salinger spent most of the war with the 4th Infantry Division, where he was in a counter-intelligence unit. He landed at Utah Beach in the fifth hour of the D Day invasion, and ended up in the middle of some of the bloodiest fighting of the liberation—in Hürtgen Forest and then in the Battle of the Bulge, in the winter of 1944. The 4th Division suffered terrible casualties in those engagements, and Salinger, by his own account, in letters he wrote at the time, was traumatized. He fought for eleven months during the advance on Berlin, and by the summer of 1945, after the German surrender, he seems to have had a nervous breakdown. He checked himself into an Army hospital in Nuremberg. Shortly after he was released, and while he was still in Europe, he wrote the first story narrated by Holden Caulfield himself, the real beginning of “The Catcher in the Rye.” It was called “I’m Crazy.” (It was published in Collier’s in December, 1945.)


A point Menand emphasizes is that Salinger is not a '50s writer. He's a '40s writer--those were his formative years. And he reminds us that it was Seymour Glass's war experiences that sent him over the edge. (And that The New Yorker rejected Catcher when it was offered to them to excerpt.

This here is a fine appreciation of Salinger:

A gift of words and silence
   78. Morty Causa Posted: March 17, 2013 at 12:44 PM (#4389883)
Dean Moriarty in On the Road is not the easiest guy in the world to like. Although he does seem to have charisma out the wazoo.

Also I suppose whether On the Road is a genuine classic or not is another discussion.


I'm presently re-reading On the Road (been probably 20 years since I last read it), and I'm surprised that the force of its language still holds. The ending is a somewhat forced poetry, but it's good anyway. You really get the sense of a place and time. Of movement.
   79. Morty Causa Posted: March 17, 2013 at 12:50 PM (#4389885)
On the Road is very much a Catcher-type book. I don't know if the book and its protagonist is looked at that way, but Walker Percy's Binx Bolling in The Moviegoer is a lot like an older Holden Caulfield/Glass Menagerie. As are almost all of Philip Roth's heroes.
   80. bobm Posted: March 17, 2013 at 01:03 PM (#4389891)
Salinger is not a '50s writer. He's a '40s writer--those were his formative years. And he reminds us that it was Seymour Glass's war experiences that sent him over the edge.

Okay. I personally would rather read Catch-22 or watch The Big Red One instead.
   81. Greg K Posted: March 17, 2013 at 01:10 PM (#4389894)
While I did enjoy On the Road, my high school literature obsession was William S. Burroughs.

I'd say his main characters were pretty unlikeable, as I don't think likeable people existed in any of his universes. But I'm not entirely sure most of his books had main characters. Looking up his catalogue now I didn't quite read all of his books, but I sure read a bunch of them. I find it very difficult to believe that if I returned to them I'd enjoy them as much as I did as a teenager. I haven't read any of his books since I was about 17, though I did write a paper on the censorship trial of Naked Lunch a couple years ago. Apparently Burroughs and the publishers figured a good, showy censorship trial would garner some attention. But the problem was no one was buying the book, so no one was bothering to stop people from buying the book. They devised a plan to smuggle a copy into the country, but do a really poor job of it and get caught. But several of these attempts failed because no one seemed to realize the book was banned, or if they did, didn't care.*


*Note, this story may actually involve Ulysses which also had a big censorship case, and the Nanked Lunch guys were actively trying to emulate...I get things mixed up easily.
   82. cardsfanboy Posted: March 17, 2013 at 01:25 PM (#4389899)
But I am curious if there are any genuine classics that feature main characters that are widely hated. And of course I don't mean charismatic antiheros like, I dunno, Milton's Satan.


For Love of Evil...features Satan in a positive light, so I'm guessing the author should be hated.

And Raistlin Majere is a full on bastard... :)

   83. Publius Publicola Posted: March 17, 2013 at 02:07 PM (#4389935)
I love how you respond to Salinger's wildly inaccurate stereotype with one of your own...With very few exceptions, they have gone to left-wing dipsy-doodle land in the last 40 years.


It isn't a wildly inaccurate stereotype. It is the honest truth. One nun I had slapped a female classmate of mine as hard as she could full in the face, snapping her head to the side. And this classmate was 8 years old at the time. The offense? She had the audacity to use her $1 value Easter seals she was supposed to sell for the parish to instead decorate the inside of her spiral notebook. It happened right in front of me. I'll never forget it. But most of the nuns I had weren't so vicious. All they would do is grab you by the hair or the chin and smash your head against the slate chalkboard. Physical abuse for minor infractions were the norm. It was like living in a concentration camp.

And the nuns I had were McCarthyite right wingers all the way. Hated the Vietnam protesters, hated rock and roll, hated secular ideas (I didn't find out that Charles Darwin existed until I got to high school), hated sex, or anything that smacked of sexuality or sensual love. Girls couldn't wear their skirts above the knee. They weren't allowed to wear patent leather shoes. They couldn't wear jewelry to school except religous paraphernalia like a cross and chain or scapulas. Pierced earrings were forbidden, for instance. We were forced to attend church everyday, and had to attend the stations of the cross after school everyday during Lent (I would not be afraid of going to hell, if there was one, because having to attend SoTC would be worse).
   84. base ball chick Posted: March 17, 2013 at 02:14 PM (#4389942)
hello boys

as for The Natural (movie) i think it would have worked LOTS better if redford had gotten someone else to play him at age 18 like he did in sneakers. and yeah, the symbolism was kinda thick and the villians like out of the cartoons. it's not one of my favorites. or even my favorite redford movie. that is indecent proposal, because i can see without ANY difficulty why it wasn't exactly a tough choice for the girl to make

as for catcher in the rye
well, youse guys talk about it so much i decided to read it a few years back. got through i think 4 chapters before i got drowned in tiresome. he's a spoilt, rich, tiresome teenager who really REALLY could use some parents. i mean the kind who actually TALK to their kid instead of leaving him to sink. any mother whose son is 16 damm well knows that when any male says something like - i'm good, i'm fine, no problem - when his arm, head or heart is broke - you just ignore that stuff and take care of your kid (same goes for adult males)

i disagree that he had actual INSIGHT into people, he knows what they do, he doesn't see what they do because of any sort of real understanding why they do/think what they do/think. and no, he doesn't look inward. i think that is an adult thing, not a teenage thing.
   85. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: March 17, 2013 at 02:24 PM (#4389944)
And Raistlin Majere is a full on bastard... :)


Speaking of books that don't measure up when read again later in life, though the Twins trilogy holds up much better than the initial set ...
   86. cardsfanboy Posted: March 17, 2013 at 02:32 PM (#4389949)
Speaking of books that don't measure up when read again later in life, though the Twins trilogy holds up much better than the initial set ...


I have that feeling with a lot of science fiction/fantasy books I read when I was younger in life and went back and re-read...One of my favorite book at age 16 was Wolfling by Gordon R. Dickson. Read it again a few years ago after finding it at a used book store, and wow, was it a pretty bad book. I am afraid to go back and read any of the other Dickson books I loved, as I have him as one of my favorite writers of all time, but if that book took that much of a drop, who knows how the others stand up(was never a Dorsai fan) Similarly I could say the same about a lot of books that I read between my 16-21 years, and then reread again, they just did not stand up to my personality changes.
   87. Publius Publicola Posted: March 17, 2013 at 03:15 PM (#4389971)
But I am curious if there are any genuine classics that feature main characters that are widely hated.


Lucy from Peanuts.
   88. Der-K: Hipster doofus Posted: March 17, 2013 at 04:19 PM (#4390011)
I struggle with talking about literature, in large part because I feel like much of my taking in of the material is surface level - I'm a quick reader, but not as thoughtful as I'd like to admit to - or be. With that in mind...

I never took Caufield as a character who was intended to be sympathetic or as someone with whom I'd closely identify* - it was a character study with an unreliable narrator. entertaining, clever, and with something to say. Didn't read it until college, because I though Nine Stories was pretty fantastic and figured I ought to give it a go.

* I quickly learned others felt differently, mind you.

Read Catch 22 in grad school (found it on the ground) and loved it. Sequel, not so much.
   89. Greg K Posted: March 17, 2013 at 04:35 PM (#4390022)
Working as a janitor for a school board I've had quite a few "found book" experiences due to,
A) Teacher's often being readers
and
B) having 2 hours of work in an 8 hour shift

A Canticle for Lebowitz was a fun one. I seem to recall another about Adolf Hitler's son becoming a politician in 1970s Germany, Dances with Wolves, and Briget Jones's Diary, which I somehow didn't realize was Pride and Prejudice until reading the book. Which is actually even more embarassing than not realizing You've Got Mail is Pride and Prejudice. (Though neither is as embarassing as liking Briget Jones's Diary and You've Got Mail).
   90. Swedish Chef Posted: March 17, 2013 at 04:52 PM (#4390037)
But I am curious if there are any genuine classics that feature main characters that are widely hated.

Agamemnon is a real dick in the Iliad.
   91. BDC Posted: March 17, 2013 at 05:03 PM (#4390043)
i disagree that he had actual INSIGHT into people, he knows what they do, he doesn't see what they do because of any sort of real understanding why they do/think what they do/think

That's a fair qualification. I guess I'd say instead that Holden has been disillusioned young, for a lot of the right reasons: but yes, he's often guessing (projecting?) that any given individual he meets might be a goddam phony, though a lot of them certainly turn out to be.

You've Got Mail is Pride and Prejudice

I thought You've Got Mail was Sleepless in Seattle :) No, You've Got Mail is The Shop around the Corner, of course, which hinges on unsuspected identity in a way that P&P doesn't.
   92. Morty Causa Posted: March 17, 2013 at 05:03 PM (#4390044)
Agamemnon is the king (well, the Big Kahuna king anyway), though, and it's good to be the king.
   93. Morty Causa Posted: March 17, 2013 at 05:05 PM (#4390045)
Almost hate to admit it, but I don't think I've ever read anything by William S. Burroughs, not even a piece or excerpt in a magazine. I'm not sure how that came to be.
   94. BDC Posted: March 17, 2013 at 05:10 PM (#4390054)
genuine classics that feature main characters that are widely hated. And of course I don't mean charismatic antiheros

There are villains (as opposed to antiheroes) who are occasionally central to their classics. Gilbert Osmond in The Portrait of a Lady is one. There is so little to like about him that the novel almost doesn't work, because you just are sick from the start that Isabel Archer would even get involved with him. (The film doesn't work at all, because John Malkovich is so loathsome – as opposed to his antihero in Dangerous Liaisons, for instance.)

To bring things full circle, Colin Firth has played both the Valmont character from Liaisons and the Darcy character in P&P and Bridget Jones. Nice range, because I sure the hell wouldn't want to see Malkovich in Pride & Prejudice.
   95. Morty Causa Posted: March 17, 2013 at 05:16 PM (#4390056)
Besides God in The Bible, the Greek gods leave something to be desired, character-wise. Zeus is like some kind of Galactic Panderer. Hera and Athena are definitely not sentimentalizations of womanly virtues, like Mary, mother of Jesus, is. Apollo and Aphrodite are cruel and selfish. There are many others.

Strindberg's Dance of Death has very unlikable main characters. It's the prototype of which I guess Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf is the exemplar. The movie hasn't live, but some think it should.

   96. Greg K Posted: March 17, 2013 at 05:22 PM (#4390061)
I thought You've Got Mail was Sleepless in Seattle :) No, You've Got Mail is The Shop around the Corner, of course, which hinges on unsuspected identity in a way that P&P doesn't.

I must have been thrown by the use of Pride and Prejudice in the actual movie.
   97. Greg K Posted: March 17, 2013 at 05:23 PM (#4390062)
To bring things full circle, Colin Firth has played both the Valmont character from Liaisons and the Darcy character in P&P and Bridget Jones. Nice range, because I sure the hell wouldn't want to see Malkovich in Pride & Prejudice.

He also played the Darcy character in Pride and Prejudice, which (and this time I'm 75% sure I'm right) is Pride and Prejudice.
   98. Morty Causa Posted: March 17, 2013 at 05:32 PM (#4390065)
Uh, Morty, are you sure that you are just trying to foster a conversation? Seems more like you are gleefully lobbing accusations of vanity and philistinism at people that don't like a book that you like. Or, actually, at people that didn't like that book when they were adolescents. It's hilarious to contrast your "give Holden a break, he's 16!" post with the idea that merely registering my 14-year old self's dislike of the book is some sort of tremendous intellectual failing. You're right, I haven't offered any "literary criticism" here. I never intended to, I'm not able to, I read the book when I was ####### 14. Battering me for that fact seems like an odd way of trying to further the conversation.


Yes. Conversations beyond the superficial can get urgent, even passionate. I think there are about ten a day just on this site. I didn't realize I was battering you. I just asked.

The thing is (and since we've last actually engaged, I haven't been addressing you at all--propositions exist separately from personalities), you're not now 14-years old. You should be wondering why you reacted so strongly then and so strongly now. That's what I would think--but if not, not. Obviously, it struck a chord in some way. If my kneejerk reaction to a mention of a character in a book is to say vehemently that I wish he were dead, and now many years later I still felt that way, I would wonder why that is so. Especially if pressed. And if I were interested in what makes good literature and what doesn't, I would wonder what my visceral response means. Does it mean it's not a good book--or maybe that makes it an especially good book. Which? That's all I wanted to know. I wasn't just putting you on the spot for the sake of doing so without a point. You said, though, you haven't thought about it and aren't interested in thinking about it now. Okay, case closed.

Everybody gets a trophy. There are no losers at this school. Happy?

   99. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: March 17, 2013 at 05:43 PM (#4390072)
my favorite Salinger is "Raise High the Roofbeam, Carpenters"
   100. Publius Publicola Posted: March 17, 2013 at 05:47 PM (#4390074)
Dorian Gray wasn't a particularly likeable protagonist. Neither were Emma Bovary, Humbert Humbert or Blanche Dubois.
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