Duck Duck Book


5 – imaginary people
11.8.2004, 12:03 am
Filed under: literature

Imaginary people : a who’s who of fictional characters from the eighteenth century to the present day / David Pringle.
Aldershot, England : Brookfield, VT. : Scolar Press ; Ashgate Publishing, 1996.
[MCL call number: R-809.927 P957i 1996; two copies, reference only at Central and Midland]

There are a lot of dictionaries and encyclopedias that give information on imaginary people, and most focus on Great White Literature and leave out characters from children’s books, comics, mystery novels and other ‘genre’ literature. 

Pringle writes in his introduction that his focus is on characters created in the English speaking world, and emphasizes that his sources include those outside of the world of novels, but even with that in mind the book shows some of the same gaps I listed above.  The book includes entries for Alice of Wonderland fame, the Borrowers, Perry Mason, Betty Boop, V.I. Warshaksi, Tintin, and Andy Capp; but Moomin (from Tove Janson’s Moominfamily series) Pippi Longstocking, Marlys (of Ernie Pook’s Comeek), and Arkady Renko (Gorky Park) are nowhere to be found.  Death is listed, but it’s the old, bony guy with the scythe, with no note about the goth girl from the Sandman series. 

So what’s my point?  Not everyone you want to find is in this book.  But then, it’s only 296 pages long.  The entries are well-written and interesting, with citations for works in which each character has appeared.  The book has a nice indexes to creators (authors, cartoonists, etc.) in the back, and a really long bibliography. 

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