Literary Characters Who Should Be Tweeting


As any true Joyce fan knows, Bloomsday is fast approaching, and this year, thanks to Twitter, there will be a new way to celebrate. One dedicated fan has launched a project entitled “Ulysses Meets Twitter 2011.” On June 16th, volunteers will tweet 140-character-sized chunks of Joyce’s experimental novel every 15 minutes. The project got us thinking about all the distinct voices in Ulysses, which led to some daydreaming about book characters we’d be curious to see on Twitter. After the jump, check out the literary characters we’d love to follow — and be sure to leave your own suggestions in the comments.

Gregor Samsa, The Metamorphosis

In Kafka’s famed novella, Gregor Samsa, a traveling salesman, wakes one morning and finds himself transformed into a monstrous bug. Much of The Metamorphosis‘s momentum comes from the fact that Gregor, despite his horrifying confines, retains his consciousness and memories. While we’re not sure how conducive insect legs are to typing, Gregor’s Twitter would certainly be a fascinating platform for him to exercise his lingering humanity.

Candace “Caddy” Compson, The Sound and the Fury

Margaret Leighton as Caddy Compson in 1959’s The Sound and the Fury

Caddy Compson was the catalyst of William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury — Faulkner has said that he began writing his modernist novel with nothing more than the image of a young girl in muddied underwear sitting in a tree. So much is said about Caddy in the book, yet never does the rebellious, passionate, and fearless Compson girl get to speak for herself. While Caddy’s absence is a part of The Sound and the Fury‘s power, we’d love to see the novel’s true hero develop her own voice and tell us what happened once she left the South.


Sue Lyon as Lolita in 1962’s Lolita

Vladimir Nabokov’s brilliant and controversial novel may be named Lolita, the narration is left entirely in the hands of Humbert Humbert, the nymphet’s middle-aged lover who is as unreliable and self-deluded as he is creepy. Throughout Humbert’s memoirs, Lolita exists only as an object of obsession and seduction. Lolita is never given space to emerge as an individual, but Twitter could provide her the opportunity to do so. Plus, it would be the ideal venue for Lolita to share all those American pop-culture obsessions that Humbert holds such disdain for.

Captain Ahab, Moby Dick

Gregory Peck as Captain Ahab in 1956’s Moby Dick

Herman Melville’s novel on whaling, revenge, and Americanism famously begins “Call me Ishmael.” But don’t the words “tweet me @ahab” have an equally nice ring to them? The romantic and philosophical Ishmael is responsible for Moby Dick‘s narration, so his is the only impression we have of the enigmatic Captain Ahab. As painted by Ishmael, Ahab is tyrannical, stern, and stubborn, hell-bent on killing the great whale Moby Dick. We hope that reading a series of half-crazed tweets about power and golden doubloons sounds as entertaining to you as it does to us (it is why we follow Kanye West, after all).

Dean Moriarty, On the Road

Speaking of half-crazed tweets — On the Road‘s Dean Moriarty is a reckless, frantic young man responsible for most of the novel’s adventures. Famously, Moriarty was based on author Jack Kerouac’s real-life friend Neal Cassady. It was Cassady’s long, rambling letter to Kerouac that inspired On the Road’s fluid and improvisational writing style. While we aren’t sure that Moriarty would be able to contain himself to 140 characters, his drug-fueled tweets on society, spirituality, and jazz would be a welcome break from the norm.

Arthur “Boo” Radley, To Kill a Mockingbird

Robert Duvall as Boo Radley in 1962’s To Kill a Mockingbird

To Scout Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird‘s precocious narrator, the reclusive Boo Radley is both terrifying and fascinating. Boo seems merely to be a figment of Scout’s imagination until he appears at a rather opportune moment, rescuing her and her brother from a vicious attack. It is then that he emerges as one of the novel’s heroes, exhibiting goodness and affection in the face of his father’s cruelty. If the withdrawn Boo managed to win our hearts in the space of his brief To Kill a Mockingbird stint, we can only imagine how smitten we would be after a few tweets.

Ignatius J. Reilly, A Confederacy of Dunces

Ignatius J. Reilly, the eccentric protagonist of A Confederacy of Dunces, is hardly a hero — he is brash, gluttonous, and perverse. He is mocking and slobbish. He is a mama’s boy. Yet, it is Reilly’s numerous flaws that make him so relatable. Reilly’s biting wit, spontaneous brilliance, and disdain for pop culture made us laugh out loud while reading John Kennedy Toole’s novel. His unique brand of cultural critique would surely translate into many oft-RT’ed tweets.