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Author Topic: Unlikable narrators
Purves Grundy
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I in The Bell Jar
I in Brideshead Revisited
I in The Dice Man
I in Earthly Powers
I in Lolita
I in Confessions of an Opium Eater

Come to think of it, I can't think of a single likable narrator in any book I've ever read. There are neutral ones used as instruments for introducing the narrative, such as I in Wuthering Heights, but beyond that the best I can come up with is I in The Great Gatsby who is little more than an empty vessel.

Where is the great "Gee, look at what a swell guy I am" novel?

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Jimski
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The various "I"s in Murakami books tend to be fairly likeable (if often also a bit odd), although can often also be accused of being a Gatsby-style empty vessel. Then again, Murakami was a huge Fitzgerald fan (made a special trip to see his grave and all), so I suspect there was quite an influence there.

btw Mention of The Dice Man makes me think we should have a "books you were most disappointed by" thread. I sooo loved the idea behind the book, and yet the book was pretty tedious really. Not terrible, but more than a bit dull in places. Which given the premise is quite sad really.

[ 08.09.2005, 22:41: Message edited by: Jimski ]

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Reed
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The "I" in most of the Irvine Welsh stories I've read, which is largely why I grew tired of reading them.
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Puggie Winnings
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Bertie Wooster and Dr. Watson are both good chaps.

Edit- "I" in Confessions of a Justified Sinner is another unpleasant one.

[ 09.09.2005, 00:25: Message edited by: Puggie Winnings ]

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E10Rifle
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I think Nick Carraway in The Great Gatsby's got a bit to him, to be honest - his simultaneous attraction to, and disgust with, that rich New York scene; his enigmatic relationship with Jordan Baker, his desolate appearance at the funeral. A very empathetic character, I reckon.

As for dislikable characters, well you've got the central characters in most Nick Hornby novels for a kick-off, especially the guy in High Fidelity - an unjustifiably arrogant, childish, small-minded, self-centred prick. And we're supposed to buy this bloke seducing country singers?

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Ginger Yellow
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Not all narrators are "I"s, you know. There's some very likeable third person narrators about.

But sticking to the first person, Vernon God Little is pretty likeable most of the time, as is Pi.

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Puggie Winnings
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The third person narrator in Lord Jim is a long-winded bore.
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Lardinho
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I'm rather fond of the I in The Debt To Pleasure even though he's a nasty piece of work.
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Andy C
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quote:
Come to think of it, I can't think of a single likable narrator in any book I've ever read.
Bertram Wilberforce Wooster?
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Mat Pereira
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Jane Eyre's quite likable. So Esther whatsername in 'Bleak House'. And David Copperfield, he's fairly likable. And Marian whatsername in 'The Woman in White' is massively good natured. And the narrator in 'Straight is the Gate' by Andre Gide seems a good enough bloke, bit fucked up, but resolutely a good egg.

I'll think of some more later.

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Wyatt Earp
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Hastings is another good chap. But dull.

I'm currently quite liking Ned Kelly, as it goes.

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Andy C
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I'll hazard Philip Marlowe as sort of likeable, and - as Puves has touched upon in that other thread - Alex in A Clockwork Orange.
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Jimski
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The unnamed I in Rebecca is compellingly likeable - the reader gets drawn into her worldview despite him/herself. When you analyse it afterwards, you realise there's a lot she can be criticised for, or is she just her own worst enemy?
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Otto Katz
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The narrator in Money by Martin Amis is pretty fucked up.

Amis goes out of his way to make him sound disgusting though. It's kind of the whole premise.

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The Horse
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Patrick Bateman isn't very nice. <cough>
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