Thursday, October 6, 2011

Literary Blog Hop: Dinner with authors

Literary Blog Hop

If you could invite any three literary figures from different eras to a Sunday Dinner who would they be?

I have to be perfectly honest up front and say that, generally speaking, I dislike the Fantasy Dinner Party genre of questions. I'm very bad at asking people questions in person. I'm not a quick thinker, I'm a little shy, and in general, I would much prefer to interact with famous people through writing. Which works out well as it happens!

Anyhow, I am reading this question perhaps very literally, but I am intrigued by the idea of authors "from different eras".

My first dinner guest therefore is Mr. Anthony Trollope. I am currently almost halfway through Barchester Towers, and one thing I've noticed is his very interesting relationship with his medium. I have a post planned in which I will (attempt) to expand on this point, but right now I'll say that he often sort of comments on his own role as a story-teller: his limitations, his ability to show or hide things, etc.

So I think maybe my second invitation would go to one Publius Ovidius Naso, known to his friends as Ovid, who can also be rather playful in his relationship with the reader. There's a fascinating passage in Barchester Towers where Trollope basically writes that authors put too much stock in suspense, and if knowing the ending ruins your book, maybe it's not such a great book to begin with (I'm paraphrasing, of course; and like I said: more on this to come). I think Ovid, with his experience (re)writing age-old myths, would substantially agree with that, and I would love to hear them develop this line of thinking.

For my third, I'm really going to go out on a limb, and ring up P.G. Wodehouse. Wodehouse is, for me, the master of employing the most exquisite language in the service of popular entertainment. Wodehouse is a breathtakingly good writer, and he absolutely churned out stories by the bucketload. I feel certain that he and Ovid would get along in their respect for the general reading public and the nobility of humor -- I don't know as much about Trollope, but I think he'd be on board too. And Wodehouse could certainly chime in on the conversation about novelty, suspense, and originality. He certainly knew a thing or two about what sells, and could bring a 20th century multi-media perspective, having written for the stage and magazines as well as stand-alone books. If you look at Wodehouse's works overall, the man only had a handful of plots, so I can imagine him jumping into that conversation. To wit:
A certain critic--for such men, I regret to say, do exist--made the nasty remark about my last novel that it contained 'all the old Wodehouse characters under different names.' He has probably by now been eaten by bears, like the children who made mock of the prophet Elisha: but if he still survives he will not be able to make a similar charge against Summer Lightning. With my superior intelligence, I have outgeneralled the man this time by putting in all the old Wodehouse characters under the same names. Pretty silly it will make him feel, I rather fancy.
So! There you have it: a Victorian, an ancient Roman, and a 20th century author walk into a dining room. At the very least, I think they'd be pretty entertaining.


  1. Ha ha I LOVE this! FANTASTIC choices! Wodehouse is one of my favorites and I'd love to sit in the conversation about suspense.

    Plus, your last line? Priceless.

  2. "So I think maybe my second invitation would go to one Publius Ovidius Naso."


    Also that Wodehouse quote is awesome.

  3. Nicely done! I see that both of us reached back to antiquity for one of our dinner guests--you to Ovid, and me to Homer. While you may be "shy", I think your choice of guests indicates that you have a love of smart and creative humor. Get the cocktails going for this table of folks and I'll wager that you'll all have barrels of fun! Great posting, and count me as a new follower. Cheers! Chris

  4. Thank you all!

    It's nearly impossible to have a favorite Wodehouse quote but that one comes close. It makes me want to weep with joy that such perfection exists in the world.

  5. For one who did not like the question-you did a very good job answering it

  6. Wodehouse would make for a very night i reckon :-)

  7. Very interesting choices. I haven't read Trollope yet, perhaps I should give him a try.

  8. Wow! That's an interesting trio, and I really love your post. I've never read anything by any of these three writers though I've heard so much about them... but your views on each make them sound rather tempting!:D

    I'm excited about exploring your blog a little more....

  9. I love, love, LOVE Wodehouse. I'm sure your dinner party would be very entertaining. Lovely blog you have here. I'm following.

  10. Yes, Ovid! Almost, almost made my list. I had to eliminate the ancients and the currents in order to try to narrow down my ideas a bit. So tough to choose only 3 people - should have been a large dinner party of 30! Lol