Re: RARA-AVIS: 3/29/02 - Top 100 List A QUESTION RE: VOTING

From: M Blumenthal (
Date: 29 Mar 2002

Jim Blue:

    I believe we need to agree about what we're voting for and what our
> choices are supposed to represent. Otherwise, after we're finished voting,
> won't even know what we've done. If we all vote for our favorite
> characters, that takes the worry out of definitions, since each person's
> favorites are what he or she says they are.
> However, if we're trying to choose the best ones or the most
> ones then we ought to agree about what "best" or "influential" means in
> case. I'm happy either way, but I'd like to understand what we're doing
> we do it.

Jim, I have seen many top, best, favorite, what have you movie lists chosen by critics. The voter will say he or she is choosing those that have been the most influential, others will say they are listing those that were important historically, others will say they are choosing those that are the best artistically, and others will say they are just voting for their favorites. The definition of best or top characters is always going to be subjective. How could the NPR list include Leopold Bloom, Holly Golightly, Scarlett, O'Hara, The Cat in the Hat, Dr Zhivago, Big Brother, Proust's Marcel and Winnie the Pooh and Sam Spade on the same list?

If you want to choose those characters that appear only in what are considered the classics of the genre, vote for those. If like Jim Doherty, you feel you should choose those characters that are most important historically, vote for those. If you feel that like Cassie you care most about characters that are developed in depth, vote for those. If like Mark Sullivan you want to come up with an ideosyncratic list, do it. If you want to vote for your favorite characters, do it. Remember that hard boiled has developed from the pulps and popular fiction, not what is called great literature. It's up to you to define best. Mark

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