Allan Massie

Character Building

Fabulous Monsters: Dracula, Alice, Superman, and Other Literary Friends


Yale University Press 228pp £14.99 order from our bookshop

‘How Many Children Had Lady Macbeth?’ This was the title of a celebrated essay by the university don L C Knights, founder, along with F R Leavis, of the austere critical periodical Scrutiny. The question isn’t, as I recall, actually put in the text. It is there in the title as a rebuke to the critic A C Bradley, whose book on Shakespeare’s tragedies to the high-minded Scrutineers made the vulgar error of treating fictional characters as if they were real people about whose unrecorded lives one may speculate. Actually, Bradley never asked this question himself either, but he did allow himself to wonder where Hamlet might have been at the time of his father’s murder.

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