Literary Boyfriends Round 8: Battle of the Closeted Despicable Antiheroes

Round8Hannibal Lecter (4) v. Humbert Humbert (5)

So, it’s the last day of the first round of the NHL playoffs, which means it’s time to close out the first round of the Literary Boyfriend Playoffs. Today, it’s a battle between two guys you never ever want to date, and I truly hope you’ve never had—and never will have—a boyfriend this bad.

However, bad men do exist, and—in literature at least—they don’t seem to want for female companionship. When it comes right down to it, the decision of whether to date Hannibal Lecter from Red Dragon/Silence of the Lambs  over Humbert Humbert of Lolita starts to look a bit like last year’s Presidential election: You’ll go with the dude that is the least despicable of the two.

As with the previous seven battles, consider this your spoiler alert.

In some ways, this comes down to a very personal inner demon evaluation. Forget for a moment whether or not you’d rather date a cannibalistic serial killer or some duplicitous guy who’s more into your kids than you. Making a choice between these two despicable antiheroes is as much about whom the reader identifies with as it is who s/he considers more reprehensible.

On the surface, both Lecter and Humbert seem interesting, if not ideal, dating material. They’re both highly educated, charming (if ingratiating) and attentive to detail. Both are capable of intimacy, and both dabble in profoundly taboo areas. Lecter is not just a serial killer; he eats his victims. And Nabokov deliberately played up the hypocrisy of western audiences (he wrote Lolita to entice Americans in particular to buy his novels)  by creating a character who’s a pedophile.

If you don’t have kids, you might think that Humbert is your man, but if you’re a single mom (as I am), you might want to think twice before getting engaged (and run down in the street). Lecter, on the other hand (assuming he hasn’t eaten it), seems the safer (if insaner) choice. He doesn’t eat Clarice, for example. In fact, they end up together in the end, as outrageous as it seems. I guess so long as he’s not making dinner, he’d be okay to have around.

Just be careful on your euphemisms for oral sex when he’s in the bedroom.

It’s Hannibal Lecter by a nose. Which he ate off Humbert’s face in the 8th round.



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