In labeling Moby Dick the most overrated novel, John Steele Gordon asks “But have you met a Captain Ahab?” The answer, I suppose, is no. But so what? I have never met a Cheshire cat, a young girl like Pearl in The Scarlet Letter , or a man who changed into a giant insect. I have never met a man who faintly resembled Sherlock Holmes. I hadn’t realized that meeting literary characters outside of the works in which they appear was a criterion in responding to great literature. Now I see where I must have gone wrong. May I please place the following advertisement in your personal column? “Moderately old reader seeks fascinating adventure with Don Quixote. Send photo and résumé. Please no phone calls.”
P.S. How about this for a category: “Most overrated idea for an annual features idea in a well-loved history magazine”?