Author Topic: Your Favorite Villain/s in Literature  (Read 6743 times)

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Offline Biffo

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Re: Your Favorite Villain/s in Literature
« Reply #60 on: March 14, 2019, 01:45:34 AM »
Stendahl: Le Rouge et le Noir (Scarlet and Black) - how do you find a villain in a book where all the main characters are equally obnoxious? Still a gripping read though.

Offline Jaakko Keskinen

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Re: Your Favorite Villain/s in Literature
« Reply #61 on: March 14, 2019, 01:57:22 AM »
Edmond Dantés, a villain? And more, as villain as Villefort? No way.
He manipulates Villeforts wife to poison almost Villeforts entire family, including children. And he saves Valentin only because Morrel is In love with her. And then he has the nerve to receive their thanks conveniently leaving to his last cowardly letter to tell that Valentines little brother is dead and conveniently leaving unmentioned that it is his fault that her brother is dead. He hurt lots of innocent people. I find him worse than Villefort.
"Javert, though frightful, had nothing ignoble about him. Probity, sincerity, candor, conviction, the sense of duty, are things which may become hideous when wrongly directed; but which, even when hideous, remain grand."

- Victor Hugo

Marc

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Re: Your Favorite Villain/s in Literature
« Reply #62 on: March 14, 2019, 02:15:35 AM »
Reynaert in Van den vos Reynaerde.
Vicomt de Valmont in [Les Liasions dangereuses[/I] by Choderlos de Laclos.
Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë.
Caligula in De nadagen van Pilatus (The Aftermath of Pilate) by Simon Vestdijk.

Offline Jaakko Keskinen

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Re: Your Favorite Villain/s in Literature
« Reply #63 on: March 14, 2019, 05:39:28 AM »
Frollo is vile but he is also a complex character; he really cared for Quasimodo when he was young (and he is also too charitable towards his lazy partying brother. He is a Faustian character with his alchemy obsessions and basically driven insane by lust and jealousy.

While I agree completely with you, ironically, Goethe called Notre Dame (he read it shortly before his death) "the most horrible book ever written" so he probably wouldn't have liked comparing Frollo to Faust  :D I can never forgive Goethe that remark, as magnificent writer as he is  >:D
"Javert, though frightful, had nothing ignoble about him. Probity, sincerity, candor, conviction, the sense of duty, are things which may become hideous when wrongly directed; but which, even when hideous, remain grand."

- Victor Hugo

Offline Jo498

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Re: Your Favorite Villain/s in Literature
« Reply #64 on: March 14, 2019, 05:53:53 AM »
Let's say Archdeacon Frollo is a penny dreadful version of Faust. There are clearly parallels: He is a scholar of all four medieval faculties, he is an alchemist, hinted to be in league with the devil, also because of his strange relation with the Hunchback whom the people of Paris despise. And even without a love potion he becomes completely obsessed with Esmeralda.
Struck by the sounds before the sun,
I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
(Bob Dylan)

Offline Jaakko Keskinen

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Re: Your Favorite Villain/s in Literature
« Reply #65 on: March 14, 2019, 07:07:26 AM »
Let's say Archdeacon Frollo is a penny dreadful version of Faust. There are clearly parallels: He is a scholar of all four medieval faculties, he is an alchemist, hinted to be in league with the devil, also because of his strange relation with the Hunchback whom the people of Paris despise. And even without a love potion he becomes completely obsessed with Esmeralda.

Agreed. Wouldn't be surprised if Hugo was influenced by Goethe (well, the second part of Faust was published only around the same time as Notre Dame but there is Part one which came out in 1808).
"Javert, though frightful, had nothing ignoble about him. Probity, sincerity, candor, conviction, the sense of duty, are things which may become hideous when wrongly directed; but which, even when hideous, remain grand."

- Victor Hugo

Offline Jo498

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Re: Your Favorite Villain/s in Literature
« Reply #66 on: March 14, 2019, 09:05:35 AM »
There was an earlier tradition of Faust stories and may be some common sources for both Goethe and Hugo. I don't know what Hugo's sources were and how generally fanciful or basically correct his account of 1482 Paris is.
While I must have seen a movie or two years ago, I actually read Notre Dame for the first time in the last few weeks. I can understand that Goethe found it too gruesome and sensational but it is mostly a fun book and Frollo is probably the most impressive character.
Struck by the sounds before the sun,
I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
(Bob Dylan)

Offline Florestan

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Re: Your Favorite Villain/s in Literature
« Reply #67 on: March 14, 2019, 10:21:13 AM »
While I must have seen a movie or two years ago, I actually read Notre Dame for the first time in the last few weeks. I can understand that Goethe found it too gruesome and sensational

If Notre-Dame is gruesome and sensational, I wonder what Goethe would have made of The Gulag Archipelago. On being told it's actually not fiction at all he'd probably have had a heart attack on the spot.  ;D
What is Music? How do you define it? Music is a calm moonlit night, the rustle of leaves in Summer. Music is the far off peal of bells at dusk! Music comes straight from the heart and talks only to the heart: it is Love!  --- Rachmaninoff

Offline Jo498

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Re: Your Favorite Villain/s in Literature
« Reply #68 on: March 14, 2019, 10:27:34 AM »
Goethe himself involuntarily started a "suicide epidemic" with his early/protoromantic "Werther". But later on he was more of a balanced, somewhat aloof "Olympian" who didn't like the romantics very much, or maybe was disturbed by what he perceived as excesses. (I had never before heard of his verdict against Hugo's Notre Dame.)
Struck by the sounds before the sun,
I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
(Bob Dylan)

Offline Florestan

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Re: Your Favorite Villain/s in Literature
« Reply #69 on: March 14, 2019, 10:32:39 AM »
Goethe himself involuntarily started a "suicide epidemic" with his early/protoromantic "Werther". But later on he was more of a balanced, somewhat aloof "Olympian" who didn't like the romantics very much, or maybe was disturbed by what he perceived as excesses. (I had never before heard of his verdict against Hugo's Notre Dame.)

I wasn't even aware that he read it. Otomh, I should have thought it was published after his death.

I find Notre-Dame de Paris much more realistic than Faust, much easier to read, more fun and humane --- bottom line, more enjoyable.
What is Music? How do you define it? Music is a calm moonlit night, the rustle of leaves in Summer. Music is the far off peal of bells at dusk! Music comes straight from the heart and talks only to the heart: it is Love!  --- Rachmaninoff

Offline Jo498

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Re: Your Favorite Villain/s in Literature
« Reply #70 on: March 14, 2019, 11:19:05 AM »
They are completely different, of course. There is nothing realistic about Faust; it's basically all ideas. But in German the language is simply brilliant and flowing easily at the same time. Often actually quite funny and it has quotable, pithy verses on almost every page.
Mephistopheles is way too funny to be serious villain.
Struck by the sounds before the sun,
I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
(Bob Dylan)

Offline Florestan

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Re: Your Favorite Villain/s in Literature
« Reply #71 on: March 14, 2019, 11:25:18 AM »
They are completely different, of course. There is nothing realistic about Faust; it's basically all ideas.

Precisely. Probably the most flesh-and-blood, fully human characters are those in the first prologue: the theater director, the playwright and the actor.

Quote
it has quotable, pithy verses on almost every page.

Yes. Basically a huge collection of witty aphorisms.

What is Music? How do you define it? Music is a calm moonlit night, the rustle of leaves in Summer. Music is the far off peal of bells at dusk! Music comes straight from the heart and talks only to the heart: it is Love!  --- Rachmaninoff

Offline Florestan

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Re: Your Favorite Villain/s in Literature
« Reply #72 on: March 18, 2019, 12:03:17 PM »
He manipulates Villeforts wife to poison almost Villeforts entire family, including children. And he saves Valentin only because Morrel is In love with her. And then he has the nerve to receive their thanks conveniently leaving to his last cowardly letter to tell that Valentines little brother is dead and conveniently leaving unmentioned that it is his fault that her brother is dead. He hurt lots of innocent people. I find him worse than Villefort.

That's not Edmond Dantes, that's the Count of Monte-Cristo. ED died in Chateau d'If.
What is Music? How do you define it? Music is a calm moonlit night, the rustle of leaves in Summer. Music is the far off peal of bells at dusk! Music comes straight from the heart and talks only to the heart: it is Love!  --- Rachmaninoff

Offline Jaakko Keskinen

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Re: Your Favorite Villain/s in Literature
« Reply #73 on: March 19, 2019, 06:23:25 AM »
That's not Edmond Dantes, that's the Count of Monte-Cristo. ED died in Chateau d'If.

Deleted your earlier post, I see. At the risk of starting an endless debate, if Joseph Stalin had been an alter ego (and the cult around him really kind of did make it an alter ego or a new ego) instead of just another name of man known as Ioseb Besarionis dze Jughashvili, and if he would have been in a FAIR trial for Stalin's genocidal crimes against humanity, do you think they would allow Jughashvili to get off the hook under the pretense that only Stalin did those crimes, not Jughashvili?
« Last Edit: March 19, 2019, 06:28:00 AM by Alberich »
"Javert, though frightful, had nothing ignoble about him. Probity, sincerity, candor, conviction, the sense of duty, are things which may become hideous when wrongly directed; but which, even when hideous, remain grand."

- Victor Hugo

Offline Florestan

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Re: Your Favorite Villain/s in Literature
« Reply #74 on: March 19, 2019, 06:31:51 AM »
Deleted your earlier post, I see. At the risk of starting an endless debate, if Joseph Stalin had been an alter ego (and the cult around him really kind of did make it an alter ego or a new ego) instead of just another name of man known as Ioseb Besarionis dze Jughashvili, and if he would have been in a FAIR trial for Stalin's genocidal crimes against humanity, do you think they would allow Jughashvili to get off the hook under the pretense that only Stalin did those crimes, not Jughashvili?

This comparison is way too far fetched, and plainly absurd, to warrant a reply. Sorry.
What is Music? How do you define it? Music is a calm moonlit night, the rustle of leaves in Summer. Music is the far off peal of bells at dusk! Music comes straight from the heart and talks only to the heart: it is Love!  --- Rachmaninoff

Offline Jaakko Keskinen

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Re: Your Favorite Villain/s in Literature
« Reply #75 on: March 19, 2019, 06:34:15 AM »
Easiest way out.
"Javert, though frightful, had nothing ignoble about him. Probity, sincerity, candor, conviction, the sense of duty, are things which may become hideous when wrongly directed; but which, even when hideous, remain grand."

- Victor Hugo

Offline Florestan

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Re: Your Favorite Villain/s in Literature
« Reply #76 on: March 19, 2019, 06:38:19 AM »
Easiest way out.

No, really, can't you see there's absolutely no ground for comparison between Edmond Dantes / The Count of Monte Cristo, a fictional character who killed / caused harm to nobody except other fictional characters, and Joseph Stalin, possibly the bloodiest tyrant the world has ever seen? Don't you make any difference between fiction and reality?
What is Music? How do you define it? Music is a calm moonlit night, the rustle of leaves in Summer. Music is the far off peal of bells at dusk! Music comes straight from the heart and talks only to the heart: it is Love!  --- Rachmaninoff

Offline Jaakko Keskinen

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Re: Your Favorite Villain/s in Literature
« Reply #77 on: March 19, 2019, 06:50:35 AM »
No, really, can't you see there's absolutely no ground for comparison between Edmond Dantes / The Count of Monte Cristo, a fictional character who killed / caused harm to nobody except other fictional characters, and Joseph Stalin, possibly the bloodiest tyrant the world has ever seen? Don't you make any difference between fiction and reality?

I used it to hammer in my point that in his fictional universe he was a villain. He may not have killed nearly as many innocent fictional persons in his fictional universe as Stalin did in real life, but, he did kill them (once again, in his fictional universe where he existed). Real-life comparisons are not off-limits. In fact, what makes great literature great is that it can and even should be compared to real life. They must obey the same logic, real life or not.
"Javert, though frightful, had nothing ignoble about him. Probity, sincerity, candor, conviction, the sense of duty, are things which may become hideous when wrongly directed; but which, even when hideous, remain grand."

- Victor Hugo

Offline Florestan

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Re: Your Favorite Villain/s in Literature
« Reply #78 on: March 19, 2019, 07:02:15 AM »
I used it to hammer in my point that in his fictional universe he was a villain. He may not have killed nearly as many innocent fictional persons in his fictional universe as Stalin did in real life, but, he did kill them (once again, in his fictional universe where he existed). Real-life comparisons are not off-limits. In fact, what makes great literature great is that it can and even should be compared to real life. They must obey the same logic, real life or not.

Okay, then. Edmond Dantes turned the Count of Monte Cristo obeys the logic of revenge. There you have a peaceful and naive guy whose whole life was ruined and turned into hell and who is bent on doing the same to the lives of those responsible for that, at all costs. One might argue he was forced into it and he is not a sadist. When he achieves his revenge he stops the wrongdoing. Joseph Djugashvili turned Stalin followed the logic of grabbing power and keeping it at all costs. Nobody forced him into it and he was clearly a sadist. There was no stopping point to his criminal actions. What common ground do you see between them?
« Last Edit: March 19, 2019, 07:04:23 AM by Florestan »
What is Music? How do you define it? Music is a calm moonlit night, the rustle of leaves in Summer. Music is the far off peal of bells at dusk! Music comes straight from the heart and talks only to the heart: it is Love!  --- Rachmaninoff

Offline Jaakko Keskinen

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Re: Your Favorite Villain/s in Literature
« Reply #79 on: March 19, 2019, 07:22:43 AM »
Okay, then. Edmond Dantes turned the Count of Monte Cristo obeys the logic of revenge. There you have a peaceful and naive guy whose whole life was ruined and turned into hell and who is bent on doing the same to the lives of those responsible for that, at all costs. One might argue he was forced into it and he is not a sadist. Joseph Djugashvili turned Stalin followed the logic of grabbing power and keeping it at all costs. Nobody forced him into it and he was clearly a sadist. What common ground do you see between them?

How were Villefort's other family members responsible for what Gérard de Villefort did? The mass murders throughout history have been committed on the basis that "sins of the fathers shall be visited on the children". Make no mistake, this was not the only reason. Being a power-hungry monster either born or bred certainly was a major factor in this. But it still doesn't change the horrific things  the Jews, for example, were forced to go through the centuries because their ancestors allegedly crucified Christ or were responsible for it.
"Javert, though frightful, had nothing ignoble about him. Probity, sincerity, candor, conviction, the sense of duty, are things which may become hideous when wrongly directed; but which, even when hideous, remain grand."

- Victor Hugo