The five characters I would most like to have dinner with…and why.
These are five (or so) fiction characters with whom I would love to sit down to a long, leisurely dinner. There would be conversation and there would questions aplenty.
To make this fair, I did not include any characters out of my own novels (I could populate that list in a nanosecond), and I didn’t include any movie characters. Even if the fictional characters have become movie characters since their first literary appearance, I considered only their personality on the printed page to make my decision.
This one was a no-brainer. I would love to sit and chat with Sherlock Holmes. The only problem is, he probably wouldn’t want to sit and chat with me. Holmes was notorious for avoiding any social engagements, which he considered to be a waste of time. He also didn’t have much time to spare for women, whom he considered frivolous and entirely too predictable.
While I would love to change his mind on the woman thing, I’d have to get him to listen in the first place. That’s something I don’t think Holmes does very well. He listens for clues, but he (the one in the Conan Doyle stories, at least) is so sure of his own mind and opinions that changing them would take more time and effort than a simple dinner would provide.
But if I could manage to keep him seated for a few hours and managed to make him chat with a mere female, it would be a fascinating conversation. Sherlock Holmes’ mind works at a higher speed and loftier plane than almost everyone else.
(From The Crystal Cave series, by Mary Stewart)
Merlin from The Once and Future King is a doddering old fool. But the Merlin in Mary Stewart’s books was human, first.
I’m not so much interested in the magical powers Merlin possessed. He lived during one of the most interesting periods in British history, and that would be where most of my questions would focus.
I believe Stewart’s Merlin would be a fascinating dinner companion.
Lazarus Long & Maureen Johnson Long
(From Time Enough to Love, and To Sail Beyond the Sunset, and more besides, by Robert A. Heinlein)
I’m kinda cheating here by listing both characters, but they’re more or less joined at the hip, anyway. Maureen was Lazarus Long’s mother, and several thousand years later she became one of his wives.
Both of them lived for many centuries and participated in human history from way back before the Great War, all the way into our future – thousands of years ahead, when Earth became an overcrowded slum that most humans shunned if they could possibly leave.
It’s their long lives and the way their lives shape the way they think that makes them attractive dinner companions. They have very different ways of looking at the world, politics, love, and life in general. Talking about anything at all would be vastly interesting because I suspect even something as simple as sitting down to dinner would provoke all manner of unexpected reactions. As an example, I’m pretty sure that Lazarus would insist on standing until all the women were seated…and he would probably wear a kilt. Both points would spark some very interesting chat.
(From Dune Messiah and Children of Dune, by Frank Herbert)
I suspect that many readers consider Alia Atriedes to be an antagonist in the Dune series, but I tend to think of her as an unfortunate, lost soul. She had almost mystical powers, and one of the most powerful lieutenants in the Atriedes family fell in love with her. Duncan Idaho’s love was what forced him to recover his memories and become Duncan once more, instead of the ghoula (“ghost”) that his recovered flesh had been reanimated into, after he died in the first book.
Alia was very, very human – more human than the hero, Paul, her brother. She had human weaknesses, and that was what doomed her in the end. But in her short life, she controlled the universe (literally).
Alia is one of the powerful women in science fiction literature, and she would be such an interesting person to talk to!
(From The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, by J.R.R. Tolkien)
Éowyn is another strong woman, and perhaps the only one in the entire trilogy. Arwen, Strider’s long love, tended to sit around and wait for Strider to pull off the impossible in order to marry her, but Éowyn took action. She didn’t want to sit around waiting upon the Riddermach, so she donned armor, shield and sword and went to war – exactly what she wanted.
As a direct result she ended up with one of the highest lords of Middle Earth falling in love with her. Not bad for a land where women tended to be purely decorative.
I would love to sit down and talk with Éowyn – but not before the trilogy took place. I would like to talk to Éowyn long after the trilogy finished, after the Hobbits returned to The Shire, and after Aragorn had become king. I would want to talk to her about how she felt about life and women’s roles after she had reached out and taken what she wanted for herself.
And I would like to meet her husband, Faramir, too. 🙂
(From Little Women by Louisa May Alcott)
I’m cheating again. Not only is this dinner #6, but Mrs. March is almost a real person. She was a direct transposition of Louisa Alcott’s real mother, just as Little Women is a very loosely disguised fictional rendition of Alcott’s childhood.
The era, and the location where Alcott was raised (Concorde, MA) is a fascinating one, because that was the time when Walden was camping by his pond, and all sorts of literary and philosophical experimentation was happening. Some of the ideas that emerged from that time and place still have an impact on us today. Existentialism and Transcendentalism shaped modern philosophy and even modern psychiatry, and it could be argued that they both lay the foundation for the huge wave of self-improvement and motivational courses, books and more that are available these days.
Louise Alcott was born into the practice of Transcendentalism. Her mother, on the other hand, made a conscious choice to adopt the principles and practice them, in a time when religious conservatism shaped society and communities. You have to admire a woman who chooses to turn her back on all the ‘shoulds’ and ‘musts’ that had been drilled into her since childhood, and decide to live a completely different (and very much poorer) lifestyle, regardless of what the neighbors and her family might think. It takes guts to do that in this day and age. What sort of courage must it have taken to do that in Victorian times?
So there are my five (six) dinner companions.
Who would you want to have dinner with? Tell me in comments. Have I forgotten someone fabulous? And for you, the characters in my books are up for grabs, as well as all of literature. Who would you send invitations to?