Today is Friday the 13th, a day long help to be inauspicious. The superstition began with a fear of the number 13 and is ages old; even the ancient Babylonian Code of Hammurabi (1700 BC) omits 13 in its list of numbered laws.However, we can thank a book for the association with Friday.
The connection originated in 1907, when Boston stockbroker Thomas Lawson published Friday the Thirteenth. The book was quite successful and was turned into a silent film in 1916. For years after, Friday the 13th was considered an unlucky day for stock market trading.In literature, it seems, luck knows no days or numbers; some characters are chronically unlucky!
Last Friday the 13th, Huffington Post published a list of literature's unluckiest characters. We'd propose a few others for the list:
- Pi: After suffering a traumatic shipwreck and realizing his entire family has drowned, the eponymous hero of Yann Martel's Life of Pi finds himself trapped in a lifeboat with a ferocious tiger. (Did we mention being stuck in a lifeboat with a tiger?!)
- Porphyria: Imagine traipsing across the moor in a storm to see your lover, only to be strangled with your own hair. Such is the fate of the poor girl in Robert Browning's dramatic monologue Porphyria's Lover.
- Rose of Sharon: When John Steinbeck wrote Grapes of Wrath, he portrayed the tribulations and disappointments of the Great Depression with great poignancy. Newly married, newly pregnant Rose of Sharon loses everything, including her baby, and learns all-too-difficult lessons very young.
- Moses: No, not the Biblical Moses, but the protagonist of Herzog by Saul Bellow. Though Moses doesn't face any single catastrophe, he does struggle with those everyday ills that make him seem predisposed to bad luck.
- Jay Gatsby: So much effort, and even The Great Gatsbyhimself still doesn't get the girl. Though some have trouble feeling sympathy for Gatsby, it's tough not to identify with his feelingsand his willingness to go to any lengths for love.