Trading Places

Continued from my previous post What Did I Want . . .

Let’s start by saying that there is a world of difference between “Which fictional character would you like to be?” and “Which would you like to be just for a day?”

In the first case you would live that person’s life, die that person’s death – end of story. So I would definitely choose someone whose story was not finished yet (I do not want to know how and when I am going to die), rather than one of the immortal dead such as Helen or Paris, or Rosalind/Ganymede, or Mika Waltari’s Sinuhe or Anna Karenina

Vivien Leigh as Anna Karenina

or Catherine Earnshaw or Hester Prynne or Maisie Dobbs or Ayla (in Jean M. Auel’s Earth’s Children series) or Regeane (in Alice Borchardt’s The Silver Wolf) or Darley in The Alexandria Quartet. A weird selection, yes, I know – and mostly female, yes, I know that, too – but all characters I would love to have been, though I would not wish to be them now (dead), and nor would I wish to be one of them for a day. (Well, perhaps Ayla. And perhaps Sinuhe, but not for only a day, for at the very least the whole wonderful time he was with the beautiful Cretan bull-dancer Minea.)

But they have all long passed away and so have the worlds they lived in.

Robert A. Heinlein’s Lazarus Long, on the contrary, never dies, and in Methuselah’s Children I do most definitely identify with him, so why not be him? Well, one “why not” is that in other books featuring him, starting with Time Enough For Love, and then most especially in To Sail Beyond The Sunset, I always find myself identifying not with him but with his mother, Maureen Johnson – who also never dies.

So, yes, perhaps I would swap lives permanently and for ever with Maureen.

But when it comes to being someone else just for a day, much as I would like to spend a day as, say, a mermaid, or a vampire, I would in fact choose to be Tom the chimney-sweep in Charles Kingsley’s The Water Babies.  I’ll explain why in my next post HERE.

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