A while back the theme for our Top Five was the Top Five novels we've read to sound smart but didn't enjoy, and that was an exceptionally fun one to write so we thought we'd delve back into the literary vaults - and our secret and often controversial personal preferences - for another book-oriented list.
1) Fagin, Oliver Twist: as a very small aspiring ballet dancer I was Head Peas Pudding in a production of the Dickens classic, Oliver Twist. I missed my cue and was shoved onto the Maidment Theatre stage in a pudding suit and pudding hat, with a line of identical and mutinous puddings behind me (I can see why, I was clearly a bad head pudding).
It was during this production that I first encountered Fagin, one of the villains of Oliver Twist and the star of my childhood nightmares until my father took me, age six, to see The Witches, thus exposing me to a whole new level of childhood terror (she peels her face off !) A self confessed miser who mistreats a squalid gang of gin-drinking, pipe smoking street urchins, Fagin is terrifyingly undateable both on page and on the ballet stage. He’s a Victorian grotesque, filthy and conniving, with a big disgusting beard that makes him resemble Rasputin. Also, his name is “Fagin”. I would never date anyone called Fagin, much less the ring-leader of a group of grubby cockney child pickpockets. Fagin = un-datable.
2) Mr Collins, Pride and Prejudice: is there anyone in the entire history of literature more un-dateable than Mr Collins? I think Voldemort might be more palatable than Mr Collins. I would probably prefer to date the Wicked Witch of the West than date Mr Collins. The thought of sleeping with him makes my insides shrivel. Poor Charlotte.
3) Cathy, East of Eden: straight up un-dateable. Don’t have a fling with her. Don’t even talk to her. Don't even look at her.
If you’ve read East of Eden then you know why. I don’t want to spoil it for those who haven’t read the book – it’s quite excellent – so I cannot say any more on the subject. Just don’t date her.
4) Cecil Vyse, Room with a View: even in the movie, where he’s played by the very handsome and snappily costumed Daniel Day Lewis, Cecil is an un-dateable wimp. A quintessential mummy’s boy, Cecil flails about rather impotently in the face of the modern and middle-class handsomeness of George Emerson. He can’t even kiss Lucy without knocking his pince-nez off! He leaves books outside in the sun to get ruined! He reads instead of playing tennis, even when they need him to play doubles! This awkwardness and disdain for outdoorseyness lead Lucy Honeychurch to deem poor Cecil completely un-dateable, and I almost agree with her.
I almost agree because out of everyone on this list, Cecil is the one I’d date if I absolutely had to. He’s not evil or disgusting; he’s just a little vain and completely out of touch. There are aspects of his character that make me love him – his predilection for sharp suits, monocles, thin moustaches and boater hats, for one. And when he says things like, “I have no profession. My attitude - quite indefensible - is that, if I trouble no one, I may do as I like. It is, I dare say, an example of my decadence”, my heart melts a little. He’s a tiny bit adorable, but still mostly un-dateable.
5) Gimli the Dwarf, The Lord of the Rings: I thought long and hard about this entry, because Gimli beat out Daniel Cleaver and Hamlet for the last spot on this Top Five. Why? Well, Gimli would be a neglectful, hairy and far too short boyfriend. He has a great big beard, he probably smells, he always carries an axe, he would constantly break dates to go away on a “quest” with his bros and he’s a warrior dwarf. He is not a handsome ratbag like Cleaver, he’s not brooding and intelligent like Hamlet. I know that there are a million other “bad boys” in the history of literature, but for some reason I keep coming back to Gimli, and how I would never, ever, ever want to date him.
- Hannah Cooke
1) Harry Potter: don't get me wrong, I love the books dearly. But actually dating the boy who is constantly about to be murdered by an evil sorcerer would be exhausting. There would be no arguing with a forgotten anniversary when the excuse was that he was too busy saving the world from Voldemort to remember to pick up some flowers. The whole aching lightning bolt scar would also get pretty old as it interrupted a nice dinner out for the 67th time. Plus, I know Hermione and Ron are technically together, but jealousy is inevitable when the ‘Best Friend’ is insanely hot and incredibly smart. Besides, while he may be in Gryffindor because he’s brave if the sorting hat analysed sense of humour, he’d be straight to the non-house that is Ravenclaw. Let’s be honest.
2) Madame Bovary, Madame Bovary: thanks to Monsieur Flaubert’s obsession with the ‘mot juste’ we get the inner workings of a really cruel (and bored) hottie. Consequently such a detailed portrait renders Emma Bovary more Rachel McAdams in Mean Girls and less, say, Rachel McAdams in The Notebook (speaking strictly in terms of slutty, grass-is-always-greener babes comparisons). Either way, no matter how sexy I find the French accent I still wouldn’t agree to a drink with her.
3) Heathcliff, Wuthering Heights: an obvious choice perhaps, but I like to remember how un-dateable Heathcliff is. It is literary proof that although ‘brooding’ is initially very attractive and endearing, it is a fucking nightmare long-term. This also applies to ‘mysterious’ and ‘Byronic.’ Plus it’s unlikely that Heathcliff would be willing to get MacDonlads and eat while watching The Gilmore Girls or The Mentalist. I reckon I could even persuade Potter and Bovary to indulge in cheeseburgers, frozen coke and witty televised repartee but I have a sneaking suspicion that the mere suggestion would see Heathcliff packing a massive sad and taking off down Ponsonby Road on his horse (also an annoying transport feature, as I’m allergic).
4) Edward, Twilight: I don’t even need to read the books to know that the impracticalities of dating a vampire would absolutely outweigh any dashing good looks that may be involved.
5) Sasha, A Visit from the Goon Squad: while I would be more than happy to take Jennifer out, her creation Sasha is a different matter. Although I was at first swayed by the description of her hip New York apartment, then almost sold by the added presence of a bath in its lounge, my fantasy was cut short by her kleptomania. It would be impossible to be romantically involved with a pick-pocket. Especially one with a penchant for treasured, personal items. Even the advice columns as seen in Cosmopolitan magazine or Women’s Weekly would struggle to justify that.
- Kat Patrick
When I started thinking about this Top Five all I could grasp were the extremely dateable characters in fiction; the Darcys, the Gatsbys, the ah Snapes. The likeable characters of literature are held up so high on a cultural pedestool that it's quite hard to see all the way down to the gutter trash. But once you start there are a myriad suspicious side-characters on the way who are both controversially loved and loathed.
1) Bingley, Pride and Prejudice: Yes Wickham's the obvious choice, he's the asshole, we all know it. But wasn't he also a raging babe who swept into Elizabeth's life and at least gave her a little bit of excitement, albeit it for a short amount of time which ceased when she found out he was a lying little shit, proceeding to weep uncontrollably for some time all the while - and this boggles me and calls Austen's writing into question - still hating Darcy. Hell, at least he was interesting! Bingley - and his partner, Jane - on the other hand was an absolute drip. A drip! Sure his ginger quiff was somewhat adorable in the McFayden-starring film adaption but we're talking novels and in Pride and Prejudice on paper Bingley is Boooooooooooooooooooooooooring. Shit, I just fell asleep on my O key thinking about him.
2) Becky Sharp, Vanity Fair: if there's one kind of person I cannot stand (apart from drips, see above) it's social climbers. Becky Sharp's character in Vanity Fair is the ultimate example of this, going from commoner to courtier and back again leaving a sea of heartbroken, emasculated suitors in her wake. Sure the novel ends with Sharp sad and alone - a fair conclusion to her atrocious behaviour - but that only supports the argument that she shouldn't have even tried to be a scheming little bitch in the first place. Go figure.
3) Dorian Grey, A Picture of Dorian Gray: Someone who becomes obsessed with his own self image to the point where he goes insane is just a bad scene. Super bad.
4) Mrs Coulter, The Northern Lights (His Dark Materials Trilogy): so obviously we don't have Daemons and I'm unsure whether this topic infers that we will join said fictional character in their fictional world or whether they will court us in reality, but if we were supplanted into Phillip Pullman's anti-Christian (God bless him) world the idea that a potential soul mate would woo by ripping your soul from your physical being is awkward at best, ah, soul-destroying at worst.
5) James Bond, the James Bond series: Daniel Craig is a babe and his relationship with Rachel Weisz is even more delightful but James Bond as a character is just too perfect. Being constantly made to feel inadequate because you're not an International Person of Mystery - fighting crime, saving the world, banging babes - is just not something anyone should have to expose themselves too. Plus, some of his lines are so cheesy I feel that upon their delivery I would spew in his face, ending things before they began. He does, however, wear a suit exceptionally well.
- Courtney Sanders