I stumbled on this item (via @GrantaMag) this morning from Slate Magazine, listing the most attractive men in novels and poems. (The ladies are here.) And I realized, for all my susceptibility toward fictional film and TV characters, I'd never really thought about the fellows on the page. Which is probably a good thing, but still, not a bad notion to consider on a Thursday morning.
The Slate writer has a couple of good ones on the list, including Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird and Nick Carraway from The Great Gatsby. The others I've never heard of or simply don't agree with. I would, though, like to add a couple of my own:
Hector from The Iliad because poor Hector tried to do all the right things and that egomaniacal, heel-susceptible jerk Achilles still did him in and then dragged him around the city walls for good measure. *Shakes fist* I will always hate you Achilles!
Mr. Rochester from Jane Eyre. Okay, probably not a popular choice because he really is a jerk, too, given that he has his former wife locked up in the attic. So, poor choice in real life but on the page, well, I just can't help it. He's got the dark and broody, riding on horses, hunting with hounds, being all decisive yet conflicted thing going on. I don't know what's wrong with me, but there it is.
Jean Valjean from Les Miserables. Let me underscore that this is the Jean Valjean from the pages of a really long but really great book with a whole unnecessary 100 page interlude on the lives of 19th century French nuns. This is not the Jean Valjean of the Hugh Jackman vintage. (Yes, I hated the movie. Sorry.) True story: I cried for 20 minutes after reading Valjean's death scene. I didn't want him to go. Damn books, making me feel things...
And finally, and perhaps most disturbingly, Thomas Cromwell from Hilary Mantel's historical novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, about Henry VIII. Now, everything I've read about Cromwell says he was likely not a nice dude. At all. But the way Mantel writes him, you can't resist. He's lonely, he's driven, he's kind (okay, except to Anne Boleyn and a half dozen other characters). Most of all, though, he's hilarious. I would totally want to spend an afternoon drinking Woodchucks with the Mantel version of Cromwell. In fact, I don't know if I'll be able to read the third book in the sequel because I'm pretty sure he dies. History has the worst spoilers!
So who are your picks for attractive fictional gentlemen or ladies?