This week’s Top Ten Tuesday from the Broke and the Bookish is an interesting one, asking us to list ten authors living or dead who we would die to meet. Now leaving aside the inconvenient fact that if I have to die to meet an author then that presumably implies that the author should also be dead and further implies that there is an afterlife, I’m not actually convinced I particularly want to meet any of my favourite authors.
You see, unconsciously we build up a mental image of an author based on what he or she has written and I’m not sure that our images would necessarily be reflected in the actuality. In the same way as comics are not always fun in real life and rock stars may prefer a cup of tea and a digestive to vodka and Class A drugs, wouldn’t it be a downer if our literary heroes turned out to have feet of clay, to be false idols or simply a little bit mundane.
Anyway, I will suspend my doubts and will assume the existence of a post-death bar or restaurant where I can entertain some dead literary folk in order to comply with this week’s brief. So, in no particular order:
1. Jane Austen. Unlike most of you, I’ve never read any Jane Austen (although I am hoping to correct that with Risa from Breadcrumb Reads’ August group read of Sense and Sensibility. But an autograph manuscript of her unfinished novel the Watsons is being sold at auction at Sotheby’s in
on Thursday. It is the only such manuscript remaining in private hands but, even so, has an estimate of £200,000 - £300,000 on it. I’d like to ask her what she thinks of that (and ask if she could quickly knock another one out for me!). London
2. William Shakespeare. He may be Exhibit A in my argument that our images of literary folk may be out of sync with their actual personae. Will was a working actor and a bit of a small time businessman. There is evidence that he was a bit of a money-grabber and rather keen on the readies. This doesn’t fit nicely with the image of the universal playwright, throwing off effortless lines of high-minded verse. Still, there was a lot of tavern-going amongst the acting profession of Elizabethan England and I reckon it’d be fun to have a couple of jars of ale with Will, Christopher Marlowe and the rest of the gang.
3. Colin Dexter. I could actually have met him. He was a mate of my Latin master at school and was the Chief Examiner of Latin at my exam board when I took my A-level. I’d certainly like to ask the creator of Inspector Morse a few pointed questions about some of the questions he set.
4. Agatha Christie. Over 80 detective novels, over four billion sales, translations into 103 languages and the longest running stage production in the world, just where would you start with the Queen of Crime? And come on, who could resist the opportunity to say, "So, Agatha, why didn't they ask Evans?"
5. P.G. Wodehouse. Anyone who reads this blog will know how much I love P.G. Wodehouse. I could sit and talk with him for hours.
6. J.R.R. Tolkien. Tolkien and I are alumni of the same
college (as is Philip Pullman incidentally). I’d really like to ask him what things were like in his day and, more specifically, which room he lived in, just in case it was the same as mine. Obviously we could chat about his books as well. Oxford
7. Ernest Hemingway. PAAAAARTY!!!!
8. Dorothy L. Sayers. Basically, I love the Lord Peter Wimsey stories and I’d like to ask her about the missing foreskin of the body in the bath in Whose Body?
9. H.P. Lovecraft. Lovecraft’s audience was quite limited during his life and his popularity and current standing really only started to take place after his death. I’d like to tell him about this and ask if he ever thought it would happen.
10. Jean-Paul Sartre. Look I think his politics (especially his attitude towards Mao’s China) stank but he wrote some cool existentialist stuff and I quite fancy the idea of hanging out with him at the afterlife’s version of the Café de Flore, wearing a black roll-neck sweater and sunglasses, smoking Gauloises and generally being far cooler than I actually am.