23 October 2006

The Anxiety of Influence

    Three American writers have compiled their list of (get this) the 101 Most Influential People Who Never Lived.  (See the complete, and often bizarre, list here.) Conspicuously absent, according to this blog: 

  • Lolita, the prototype for pop culture's most prominent stereotype (these days, at least)
  • Homer Simpson, Archie Bunker's heir and the great philosopher grunt of the 21st century
  • William Shakespeare, if those infernal Oxonians and Baconians are to be believed
  • Elizabeth Bennet, heroine of a novel whose name I absolutely will not mention here
  • Sancho Panza, the archetype of the sidekick for centuries
  • Stephen Dedalus, proof positive that Freud was right when he said that the Irish were the only people immune to psychoanalysis
  • Tom Jones, Henry Fielding's galavanting pseudo-prodigal, still the classic male role model (and the basis for every part played by Hugh Grant and/or Colin Firth)
  • The Wife Of Bath, whose descendants the NSG-Doctor keeps bumping into everywhere
  • Alex Forrest, whose descendants the NSG-Doctor also keeps, Er, bumping into everywhere   
  • Holden Caulfield, whom we've all resembled at one point or another
  • Harry Lime from the film The Third Man, every bit the model of the modern CEO and the little ants down there
  • Falstaff, Falstaff, Falstaff (for me and Harold Bloom, anyway)
  • Mistah Kurtz (he dead, despite never living), whose final words are quoted daily by undergrads trying to sound cultured
  • Satan-slash-Lucifer-slash-"The Adversary"-slash-Keyser-Soze, whose greatest trick he ever pulled was... well, you know the rest....

Feel free to add your own ideas on missed names, but, to my estimation, the most influential figure upon the hearts and minds of so many in this day and age, the prophet of their behaviour and thought (though not their ungentle spirit), the chap at the centre of this tale.  After all, some influences are so sublime they shape even those oblivious to them.  Welcome to Jerzy, everyone.

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